Legal system

Constitution says there are only three federal crimes: Treason, counterfeiting, and piracy.

> 3000 imprisonable federal crimes.

Bureaucrats have great discretion.

The U.S. Supreme Court has long acquiesced to federal crimes that lack a mens rea requirement and instead impose liability in the absence of a guilty mental state (i.e., “strict liability”),

See United States v. Park, 421 U.S. 658, 663-64, 670-73 (1975)

(The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act does not require conscious wrongdoing.)

Many public welfare offenses, such as submitting an incorrect report

or serving in a managerial role when an employee violates agency regulations,

expose otherwise law-abiding people to criminal sanctions.

For example, a construction supervisor was sentenced to six months imprisonment

under the Clean Water Act when one of his employees accidentally ruptured an oil pipeline

with a backhoe.

The escalation of “law and order” politics has created a one-way ratchet in U.S. governance,

churning out an ever-increasing number of crimes and severity of punishments.

As a rule, lawmakers have a strong incentive to add new offenses and enhanced penalties,

which offer ready-made publicity stunts,

but face no countervailing political pressure to scale back the criminal justice system.

Conventional wisdom suggests that appearing tough on crime wins elections

regardless of the underlying justification,

if only to provide another line on the résumé

or potential propaganda for a grandstanding candidate,

while it is difficult to recall a single modern politician who came into office

on a platform of decriminalization or punishment reduction.

As any competent political strategist knows, fear of crime

can drive voters to the polls, and just as importantly,

the potential benefits to powerful interest groups can fill campaign coffers.

For instance, after the horrific murder of twelve-year-old Polly Klaas

by a recidivist with an extensive rap-sheet,

the public’s fear of violent crime seemed to offer California state officials

no other option but to support the then-stalled Three Strikes bill.

Religious notions of good and evil provide original grounds for criminalizing behavior

such as drug and alcohol use, gambling, prostitution, nudity, and a variety of consensual, noncommercial sexual activities.

For legal moralists, there could be no divide between crime and sin.

Behaviors need not be wrongful and harmful in any meaningful way

and individuals need not be culpable before new crimes are enacted

and their offenders punished.

A legislator only has to point to some alleged need or hardship,

no matter how minor or implausible,

in order to rally his fellow lawmakers behind an otherwise unjustifiable penal statute.

7% of Americans go to prison.

80 million lawsuits are pursued in the US every year.

$300 billion annualy is paid for damages, fees, and other tort expenses.

$1000 per person.

2% of GDP

90% of world’s lawsuits are in the USA.

It is like a tax increasing the cost of goods.

Most countries have a loser pays system.

UK and Canada do, but not the USA. USA’s is called the American Rule.

The one place in the U.S. that has had extensive experience with a loser-pays system is Alaska. Under Alaska's rules, losers have to pay a portion of the winning side's costs

The American rule is merely a default rule, not the blanket rule in the United States.

Many statutes at both the federal and state levels allow the winner to recover reasonable attorney's fees, and there are two major exceptions in federal case law as well.

Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,

federal statutes may supersede the default rule of not awarding attorney fees.

The Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act is one such federal law.

Several states also have exceptions to the American rule in both statutes and case law.

In California, the Consumers Legal Remedies Act allows plaintiffs to recover attorney's fees.

In insurance bad faith cases, a policyholder may be able to recover attorney's fees

as a separate component of damages.

In the UK, injury victims can protect themselves against the threat of losing

by obtaining after-the-event legal insurance,

the cost of which can be transferred to the defendant if a victim wins.

The court systems in England and other countries with loser pays have processes

for determining the expenses payable by a losing party.

The winner does not simply bill the loser for legal costs.

There are established standards for what can be recovered.

Trial lawyers promote litigation.

Attorneys Information Exchange Group (AIEG)

a broker for potential corporate lawsuits.

Provides information on businesses to tort lawyers who pay dues for the data base.

There is also the American Association for Justice,

formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

It has Professional Resources and Litigation Groups.

As a member of a Litigation Group you will be able to share accumulated information and experience, regarding a specific type of case. shows the lobbying by trial lawyers.

Total for Lawyers/Law Firms: $14,051,138 in 2012

Total Number of Clients Reported: 112 

Total Number of Lobbyists Reported: 245 

There are 316 former members of Congress who lobby in the OpenSecrets Revolving Door.

It is illegal to offer legal advice without a license.

The law makes it necessary for a person who is sued to obtain the services of an attorney.

The average person will fail to competently represent himself.

Law enforcement officers may assume that anyone who is carrying a lot of cash

is engaging in drugs transactions, and may seize the money without any charge of crime.

The Patriot Act has expanded asset forfeiture laws.

Civil forfeiture uses the doctrine of “in rem”, against the thing,

as if the property were an independent legal entity.

Organizations defending property rights:

Institute for Justice, Pacific Legal Foundation

Most homeowner policies do not cover “social host” liquor liability.

A host can be held responsible for the behavior of drunken guests.

p. 56: Arbitration and mediation

Both parties agree to either process.

Mediation: parties cooperate. Lower cost.

The mediator cannot impose a decision.

Make decisions legally binding by writing them as an enforceable contract.

Mediation offers confidentiality.

What is said cannot be used in a court of law.

Arbitration: An arbitrator acts as a diplomat and judge.

He does not have to be a lawyer.

There is no appeal process. Less costs than law suit.

Contracts can have a binding arbitration clause.

If you request a jury trial, there is a per diem fee per juror of $10 - $50.