Monday, April 8, 2019

The Right Side by Budd Schroeder Is Justice For All Just A Slogan?

Budd & I were on the board of together. THE RIGHT SIDE BY BUDD SCHROEDER APRIL 10, 2919 IS JUSTICE FOR ALL JUST A SLOGAN? There is an old saying “Let the punishment fit the crime.” How about having punishments when no crime was committed as seems to be a common event, especially in federal courts? A local man who has been associated with President Donald Trump can give a good example of how the system works. It is done by legal fees. The man involved was called to testify, and as he explained his problem, nobody in his right mind will set himself up to go to a court or a hearing without legal counsel. Bad things can happen to a person who is unprepared or even unfamiliar with the way the game is played. Another old saying is “A man who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” Nobody in the legal profession or those associated with it disagrees with the concept. Those who are only semi-familiar with the process have had opinions that are worth considering. One is that laws are made by lawyers to benefit lawyers. We know that in the legislative bodies the most common occupation of the legislators is lawyers. That is natural, because lawmakers are supposed to create laws to improve society and some lawyers will say it protects the people. There is some disagreement about the improvement and protection theory. It all started out with Ten Commandments and as society got more complex, so did the laws. Now, many of the Ten Commandment are legally obsolete. Who gets penalties for taking the name of the Lord in vain or making a graven image? When was the last time you heard of a person being arrested for adultery? That is still on the books, but nobody pays attention to it. Cops and the courts could be overloaded if law enforcement would go to Family Court and get reams of evidence. Maybe it is not considered to be that serious, or maybe it is because too many people in high positions would be arrested, many of them being politicians. The scandals make for interesting news and people like to read and hear about who cheated on whose spouse. Perhaps it is because many divorce lawyers make an excellent living with adultery being grounds for divorce, and it makes getting settlements lucrative. If one looks at the law books, there are millions of cases numerated and decisions made. It takes a trained person to understand what the law really means. Many laws contain subjective terms and loopholes that make it necessary for an expert to decipher. Even judges can disagree on points of law. The really unfair part of the process is that in spite of the agreement that laws can be complex and misunderstood, the poor average citizen can unintentionally get into trouble or even arrested because “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Ask a judge or lawyer sometime about a point of law and see if you get a quick and positive answer. Often, it will be something like, “I will have to check that out.” A law enforcement officer once said that he will arrest the person if he thinks the person committed a crime and let the District Attorney determine if the guy was wrong. Perhaps requiring more detailed training might be considered in the next legislative session. Legislators love to make new laws. They get credit and trophies for doing it. If you go to their legislative offices in Albany and look at the wall, the chances are you will see a picture frame with a copy of a law and a dip pen in it. It is like the hunter who puts up stuffed heads of animals he killed as trophies on his wall. The other motive for making laws is invariably it takes power away from the individual citizens and gives it to the government. People used to be able to own a wrist rocket sling shot, but several years ago an assemblywoman had some kids shoot out a light on her property. They used a slingshot and therefore she got a law passed to make them illegal. Now, that is real power and makes society safer. She got her wall trophy for the new law. Note the sarcasm. Now, getting back to the punishment issue, people have been accused and indicted for crimes they didn’t commit and that was discovered only after a trial. However, the person had to put up bail and a million dollars is not all that unusual for a high profile “crime.” Most people don’t have that kind of money available and put up a bail bond where the usual fee is ten percent. Then there is the reality of legal fees that can run into six or seven figures. Let’s say that the trial ended well for the accused and he was found by a jury that he was not guilty. He is free to go, but he had to liquidate his assets and file for bankruptcy. Those in the system will say something like: “Too bad he had to go through that, but he shouldn’t complain because he got a fair trial.” We are told we have the best system in the world when it comes to laws and justice. Everything is relative and the question is “compared to what?” Of course there are countries where you are not considered “innocent until proved guilty” as our system is supposed to be, but the recent witch hunt that was just concluded, showed no evidence of collusion with Russia, so we should know better. From ruined reputations and loss of money and property, the charges alone were enough to equate the results as devastating as a conviction. We may have the best system of laws in the world, but it is obvious that it needs to be overhauled and make “equality under the law” more than a slogan. This could be a good issue for the 2020 elections. It could affect us more than some of the liberal leftist progressive programs. Beware! -30-

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