I enjoy the history of the law. The law and its origins are very interesting. Some of it is patently offensive and stupid, too. Since when does it make sense to be able to cite to a case from two centuries ago that STILL supports the idea you are trying to use to win your case? Stare decisis – let the decision stand – and precedent are three words that I find least useful in the law. It stifles progress, creative thought, and changing with the times. Or, perhaps, it is a sinister way of letting us know that things really haven’t changed all that much in 200 years. Hmmmm. Yeah, that and the notion that the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts NEVER legislate from the bench. Uh-huh….and the Donkeys are going to win the Super Bowl also.
Law school was a miserable experience. One grade for each class per semester based on one test. I had to stand up in class and respond to questions (exercising my blossoming skills in the Socratic method) which was positively heinous. They make it look all kinds of academic and vaguely aristocratic on television, but the reality is something far less…esoteric. It is a grind and a fear thing It’s a look your professor in the eye and try not to sound like the village idiot kind of fear. I analogize it to having your pants fall down on a crowded bus and acting as if nothing is amiss as you pull them up. Forget that there was one professor who was just funny. Not his words, his mannerisms. I had to stifle laughter for the better part of an hour for six months. Terrible.
Law school teaches you a method of logic that simply has no place in the real world. I.R.A.C. = Issue Rule Argument Conclusion. Every legal argument, case, decision boils down to these four rules of legal argument. IRAC drives some left-of-normal people to behave like pure butts in the courtroom. I like to chide them that I remain perpetually cheerful and they will just have to get used to it. To satisfy my spirit, I surfed and rode my bike thousands of miles during law school. It kept the insanity that drives some people to become cutthroat, purely profit-driven individuals from infecting my sense of self and well-being. I was happy to graduate and figured I would get a job somewhere…someday. I was right.
It is very regimented with no room for creativity or free thought. Because “THE LAW” governs our lives within our larger communities through statutes and ordinances that dictate standards of behavior and whatnot, then as one lawyer I know said, “the nerds got their revenge.” I object to that characterization because, as I have said before, I am an unabashed gamer AND nerd. Hmph.
I’ll bet that you did not know that crime is not a crime unless the legislature says it is. True story. The big Ten no-nos a.k.a. the Ten Commandments figure heavily into some of these laws. But you see criminal law is entirely a work of creative fiction by the law making body. If a crafty legislature wanted to go left of center, they could criminalize buying an extra large soda or smoking outside. I am frankly amazed that former Mayor Bloomberg did not do just that. Being too fat, too thin, wearing certain colors on the wrong day, not matching your socks, wearing polyester, reading a fashion magazine, eating play-doh…..the list of possible crimes could be infinite.
The law says how we get married and to whom. The law controls whether or not we can divorce, inherit an estate, carry free or low-cost health insurance, publish, read, or watch pornography, drive a car fast, get into a scrap with someone else, raise our voices in public, buy a house, get credit, get out of debt, repay creditors, even whether members of Native American nations that existed here before the Europeans ever set foot on this continent can actually “govern themselves.”
There is almost nothing that you can do in this life in America that is not somehow connected to a law. Think about it. I drink milk, yes, with ovaltine, thank you very much, and I love it. I go organic whole. That costs me about $4.00 a gallon. If I can score my nirvana in a glass bottle unhomogenized, then it’s $.50 a gallon. The price I pay is dictated by a series of agricultural rules and regulations created by the federal government. The dairy farms are subsidized by government loans, again, controlled by federal rules and regulations a.k.a….laws. What they pay to produce is passed on to me. Same for meat, or vegetables. Same for what qualifies as “organic.”
If I want to buy knock off Juicy Couture purses, I may be committing a crime since I know it’s not the real deal but it looks nice and I buy it anyway. I find it incomprehensible why Mr. Snowden would be a target for murder by government officials when he exposed a dirty little secret the government carried out against a large portion of the American population by recording conversations. There had to be a law that authorized that activity. Like I said it was just an exercise in money waste and stupid.
Speaking of laws, do not forget Congress, my favorite band of merry miscreants ever. Legislation establishes their salaries and benefits. Legislation can undo them. It should, therefore, not be a surprise that this never happens. They like their cush little salary and lifetime benefits. Yet their behavior is so reprehensible and ugly. We, the people, have the legal authority to file legal complaints for impeachment against many of these dummies. Did you know that? You voted them in, you can try to impeach them out.
We cower in court when a judge asks why we were racing down the road at 2 mph above the speed limit. The we pay the city, county, or state a hundred bucks or so with a mea culpa. We as jury members condemn to death those who raped children, and committed heinous acts so awful the court will not allow the photos to be released to the media. Yet we want to see them. We want to know. There are laws that allow us to ask for these things: the Freedom of Information Act. F.O.I.A. really isn’t an expression of freedom at all since many documents and photos are redacted due to laws governing disclosure of certain documents like presidential assassinations and the Roswell incident.
Personally, I find that there are too many laws and too little common sense. Do we really need to legislate personal events like marriage? Why do you need a license to tell someone that you love them and want to hang out for a while, preferably forever, and maybe add more people to the planet in the process? I’ll tell you why – because then the lawyers who represent in divorces would have no source of income. You want to end it, you walk away. Simple. Is hanging out at the corner store really something worth writing someone a ticket for? I used to sit on the stoop back in Manhattan when I was growing up. It’s what kids do. Should I have been hauled off to the pokey for that dire transgression – don’t even get me started on dropping water balloons on unsuspecting passersby. That is probably a fourth degree assault today. I led a life of crime from a young age and didn’t even know it.
The law cuts both ways, though. I have used it to help people who have been taken advantage of. I have helped people start businesses, deal with their taxes, and help them see their children. I have used it to write my novels and assisted other authors review their onerous contracts. God why can’t lawyers just write in plain English? I so tired of legalese and, apparently, so have the courts.
Did you know most lawyers can’t write their way out of a paper bag. Res ipsa loquitur – let the thing speak for itself. Read a really bad brief sometime and you will run screaming out of the courthouse. I could go on, but pontification is not my thing. I will leave you with this simple missive:
“A countryman between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats.” Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1737
First in the Lawyer Ninja Truth Series to be continued after my brain relaxes a bit.