Thursday, February 17, 2011

Laws also deserve to be scrutinized

Laws also deserve to be scrutinized

(This one was totally neutered and declawed to make it acceptable to the publisher. I offer the original, offensive version here.)

Just about everyone wants justice. One of the most powerful tools you and I have available to keep government honest is the jury. The trick is you can't count on the government informing you of your power; you must usually hear of this from a libertarian activist instead.

Did you realize that when you are serving on a jury, it is your duty to not only judge the facts of the case (in other words, to decide if the accused person actually did what they are accused of), but also whether the law the person is accused of violating is a good law or not? It is true.

Most people are not aware of this fact, and most judges today will actually tell jurors they are not allowed to decide whether the law is a good law or not. However, this has been the cornerstone at the foundation of the legal system which America inherited, for close to a thousand years, whether judges like it or not. This practice is called "jury nullification" and is still completely legal (and right) in spite of what judges may claim.

A jury which is tricked into giving up this power is not a real jury; it is just there to rubber-stamp the government's agenda.

The other way the justice system can be used to strengthen liberty is to realize when a case does not belong in the justice system at all, and act accordingly if you are on the jury.

Today most people think of a "crime" as something that the government has seen fit to forbid and punish through "laws". However, a real crime must include an intent to cause harm. Accidents can not be crimes and do not belong in the justice system.

Suppose a person is accused of having an accident that injures an innocent person; that accusation leads to a criminal trial, and you are chosen to sit on the jury. In a case such as this, you need to carefully consider whether any crime has really occurred- whether there was an intent to harm- before considering anything else.

This doesn't mean that accidents are without costs. If you cause harm you owe restitution. Any real system of justice must be centered on the concept of restitution to the victim or their survivors.

However, the government is not the victim and has no horse in the race. It shouldn't even be involved in the arbitration at all. Imprisonment doesn't provide restitution, and as implemented now only costs taxpayers the huge overhead of maintaining prisoners.
The same goes for "fines". They are not paid to the victim, but to the government which was not harmed. They are simply another tax.

In order for real justice to be served, there needs to be a separation of court and State. Until then, use the tools you have been given to advance real justice and liberty for all.


1 comment:

  1. This is one of the things that makes it interesting to be a Catholic anarchist. St. Augustine, 1700 years ago, said that "an unjust law is no law at all." A real law must be an ordinance of right reason. An irrational law can not be a morally binding law. He also called out the American empire, when it was called the Roman Empire. "Now to attack one's neighbors, to pass on, to crush and subdue peoples without provocation and only for fun, for the thrust for dominion. What is one to call this but brigandage on the grand scale?"

    An unjust law is an arbitrary dictate by men with coercive power, not a law. I refuse to call them laws. Only statutes. There are bigots who ignorantly call Catholics "statue worshipers." I've come up with the term "statute worshiper" to describe those who say, "Well, right or wrong, the law is the law. And enforcing the law is always moral, and breaking the law is always immoral."