The Common Flaw

Needless Complexity in the Courts and 50 Ways to Reduce It

Thomas G. Moukawsher

The Common Flaw seeks to rid the American lawsuit of needless complexity.  

It argues that Americans are losing faith in their courts because after long delays they too often get rid of cases for technical reasons or force them to settle rather than deciding them, and because, when they do decide them, we can’t understand why.

The book proposes fifty changes from the filing of a complaint in court to the drafting of appellate decisions to replace the formalism that prevails in court with a kind of humanism—that decides cases promptly—more on the facts than the law—more for the parties than the lawyers—more for the consequences to the people and the public—and in words we can all understand.

Cloth: $35 | E-book: $34.95
ISBN-13: 9781684581641
Pages: 240 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: September 25, 2023

You should come away from his book invigorated by a judge who is not beholden to the “way we have always done it.”

Los Angeles Review of Books

Book Trailer


  • In this important book Judge Moukawsher provides an essential roadmap for reconsidering the priorities and aims of the judicial process, placing humanism and the public trust at the center of an important agenda for reform.

    Paula A. Franzese
    Peter W. Rodino Professor of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law
  • A New England judge with a Southerner's flair for metaphor, he criticized "uselessly perfect teacher evaluations" as part of a rating system, "that is little more than cotton candy in a rainstorm."

    New York Times
  • Hard to believe that a court ruling could be compelling? Try this: "The state's definition of what it means to have a secondary education is like a sugar cube boat. It dissolves before it's half launched."

    Chicago Tribune
  • I started reading the judge's... decisions and discovered a wonderful trove of language... I could read his decisions forever. Moukawsher wastes no time with fools or foolishness. Upon retiring from the bench, he might try faits divers. Genius.

    Mark Dubois, Connecticut Law Review
  • By explaining the reasoning, history and context behind his ruling in an easy-to-understand language, the judge did the public — the sovereign, if you will — a favor. In that sense, this was an opinion fit for a king.

    Connecticut Law Tribune Editorial Board
  • While you may not agree with every one of the 50 ways Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher proposes to reduce needless complexity, you should come away from his book invigorated by a judge who is not beholden to the “way we have always done it."

    Los Angeles Review of Books
  • Over the course of 51 chapters spanning 240 pages, punctuated by 51 pithy cartoons, Moukawsher soundly nails his 50 theses to the law’s front door calling for reform.

    Vermont Bar Journal
  • The book is clearly written and argued, and each chapter includes a legal cartoon, which legal reformers are likely to enjoy. There are also plenty of practical tips.

    Library Journal
  • Judge Moukawsher has put a great deal of thought into looking at the big picture that too many of us in the legal world just accept as part of the territory... anyone who cares about contemporary issues facing the administration of justice will appreciate reading [his] thoughts on the subject in "The Common Flaw."

    The Pennsylvania Lawyer

About the Author

Thomas Moukawsher

Thomas G. Moukawsher is a Connecticut Superior Court judge, who has spent nearly forty years studying, making, and administering law. He has been a lawyer, a legislator, a lobbyist, and for nearly ten years a complex litigation judge. Judge Moukawsher served in local government and as a member of the Connecticut General Assembly. He also acted as counsel to the Connecticut Democratic Party.

Inside the judiciary, for twenty years, he was one of the country’s leading litigators in …

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Table Of Contents