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Do our courts provide justice?

Most of us live our lives in the hope that we will be treated fairly or justly by our legal system is there is any dispute about our guilt or innocence, or money we owe, etc.. Most of us hope that the passage of history has corrected past injustices, and that our society is progressively more and more just. Most of us also have little understanding of just how often our legal system fails us.

I once heard a judge comment that we have the "best legal system humanly possible". I thought about this at length. It may be that wherever human beings are involved, there is no hope of forever removing greed, lying, duplicity, graft, bribery, self-interest, and corruption. There is enough evidence that if a time can exist for this removal to happen, it is not now.

Listing the proven or likely failiures of our legal system could go on for considerable length. But the mere mention of O.J. Simpson, The Democratic convention in Chicago, the Rodney King beating (and subsequent trial), Chain Gangs of Alabama, call to mind only some of the most publicized images of injustice which parade with a stamp of approval through our legal system. In fact, our legal system is admitted by many of the people who run it to be little better than a crap shoot.

Most people think that, with the forensic methods available, there should be few mistakes in our criminal justice system. Unfortunately, widely publicized cases aside, most convictions for crimes and misdemeanors rely on confessions still. This means that most people who commit crimes are not going to be convicted for it. And, since most forensic evidence can be faked and eyewitnesses are only about 30% reliable, many people are probably convicted who have nothing to do with the crime they are accused of. The exact number is unknowable, because it is assumed that people who protest their innocence are probably guilty. Often, the greatest motivation for a prosecution is furtherance of the career of a district attorney, especially in widely publicised cases.

Our civil courts are even worse. Our laws are structured so that attorneys can make huge profits in lawsuits by proving very little. All that is needed in civil courts is a "preponderance of the evidence" to prove a case, since "only money" is involved - lots and lots of money. The court can believe whoever it wants to. Often it comes down to deciding in such a way that attorneys will get the most money, the decision being made by a judge - who just happens to also be an attorney. Fortunately, juries still have the last word in justice; except that is, is making family law decisions. Family law court, at least in some states, does not allow juries (somehow ignoring the U.S. Constitution), and there, with the huge amount of money and lives at stake, the judge really does decide any way he or she wants. Since it is assumed that both sides in a case will lie, it seems decisions are often made by blind unwritten rules - such as the mother gets the children as well as the money and house - or the same way that one would flip a coin. The only given is that much of the money will end up in the hands of lawyers and the court. And that our society will always have a growing supply of shattered families, impoverished fathers living alone, and dysfunctional children.

It is ironic that the old method of honorably resolving disputes without a court - the duel - was outlawed as barbaric, when our "modern" nethods of justice can often not resolve disputes with any greater accuracy. The outcomes are often no better, but certainly are more costly.

(Again a discaimer; This is not legal advice. Always consult your attorney. This is for entertainment and satire purposes only. Not responsible for accuracy of content. Etc. etc..)

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This page last updated 31 August, 1998.
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