Saturday, July 1, 2006

What rule of law?

Litigation has become [a] popular technique of subverting democracy to enforce moral claims on society. But while litigation has a positive role and a proper place in common law as an instrument of obtaining justice and protecting individual property and liberty, the procedural and conventional restraints that once bound it to those goals have been abandoned.
June 21, 2006

Defendants are not permitted a trial by peers, rules of evidence and instruction are controlled by the same government that either acts itself as a litigant or whose legislative aims make it sympathetic to specific litigants, thereby manufacturing, responding to and perpetuating its own incentives, and spurious associations are indulged to make popularly reviled third parties culpable for litigants' own errors… today's courts of law are no place to find justice. For the sequel, even the law such as it is is permitted to overlook itself in pursuit of its other purposes. See Alex Epstein's article in Capitalism Magazine on an upcoming Florida Supreme Court judgment on a 2001 class action lawsuit awarding $165 billion US in punitive damages from tobacco companies:

In today's courts, plaintiffs' attorneys incite juries to award jackpot verdicts by demonizing unpopular targets like tobacco companies, pharmaceutical companies or CEOs — and juries justify their verdicts as "sending a message" the law does not authorize them to send.

2 comments:

Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

the phrase "sending a message" in that kind of a context is not even permitted to be uttered in our house - for the exact reasons you outlined, and others. I think there was some bright pundit who once said something along the lines of "If you need to send a message, call western Union, don't pass another f**ing law"

MapMaster said...

I have sympathy with the character in Hamlet who said:

First thing we do. Let's kill all the lawyers.