“Susan Mezey has written a fine study. She takes a careful look at the actions and effects of the federal courts in an important field of policy. In doing so, she provides insight into the practical impact of litigation that is aimed at reforming public programs.”
—Lawrence Baum, Ohio State University
“For all the general talk, there are remarkably few detailed, empirical studies of the how, what, where, when, and why of judicial policy making. Focusing on class action law suits in “lower” federal courts rather than big Supreme Court cases or routine trials, this study will be vital for all future analyses of courts and public policy.”—Martin Shapiro, University of California, Berkeley
“[Susan Mezey’s] careful analysis of child welfare policy and the role of the federal courts will soon become a critical source in the debate over class action litigation. It not only provides a thorough analysis of how ‘big’ cases move with glacial pace through the court system, but how they affect the system as they proceed. It is a carefully researched, excellently written, and sophisticated legal and political analysis of the emotional and often heart-wrenching problems involving child welfare.”—Karen O’Connor, American University, Washington, D. C.
“Pittiful Plaintiffs is a book that scholars interested in judicial policy making or in public policy analysis more generally will want on their shelves.”-- Law and Politics Book Review
“Susan Gluck Mezey has provided a thoroughly researched, useful addition to the literature on interest in group litigation and judicial decision making.”---Caren G. Dubroff,Political Science Quarterly, Winter 2000-1
“Well-researched, highly readable book.”---D.R. Imig, Choice, March 2001
“The most significant contribution of this book is that it highlights the extraordinary difficulty of reforming a child welfare system that can only improve if numerous public officials respond favorably to intrest group pressure.
An attractive feature of the book is that it combines legal, political, and policy analysis. The legal analysis is excellent and lucid enough for advanced undergraduates to follow. The political analysis is wide -ranging and instructive, with good insights into each brach of government and occasional references to federal -state relations. ...it offers considerable insights into an important lawsuit and its aftermath. ...it (does) advance our understanding of the underlying issues.”Willan T. Gormley, Jr. Georgetown University
American Politics, March 2001
“Adresses some perennial issues in the study of litigation as a means of reforming public institutions. One of these is the clash between federal courts and state governments, where the ubiquitous dance of federalism plays out against the backdrop of judicial, legislative, and bureaucratic cultures. Another is the suitability of judges for the complex task of changing an agency's policies and practices. . . . These aspects of reform litigation, and some others, are explored in Mezey's thorough case study of child welfare reform in Illinois that focuses on the story of one case—B.H. v. Johnson. . . . Mezey does a good job of putting the events of the lawsuit into context. In casting her gaze beyond the Illinois borders, she shows how lawsuits across the nation impacted on B.H. . . . These strengths highlight the virtues of the case study approach, which allows careful attention to context and detail, while sacrificing generalizability.”—Elizabeth Ellen Gordon, The Justice System Journal
“Mezey presents a single, yet careful, case study of an institutional reform suit (B.H. v. Johnson) against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)—the state child welfare agency. . . . This book's primary contribution is an interesting, nuanced study of a federal court strategy for comprehensive child welfare reform in Illinois. It is of great interest to child welfare practitioners and public interest lawyers.”—Social Service Review
“This careful analysis is more than just a point of academic study or discussion on child welfare reform; it provides an analytical and detailed study of the process one might take in reforming child welfare in local and state governments across the nation.”--Spencer H. Gunnerson, Journal of Law & Family Studies, 2002