1197A wonderful Essay
- Mar 15, 2003
FIRST - Lets be very, very serious. We must look to the era for definitions of words used by the framers to declare their rites: http://www.onelook.com/ LIB'ERTY, n. [L. libertas, from liber, free.] Webster's 1828
1. Freedom from restraint, in a general sense, and applicable to the body, or to the will or mind. The body is at liberty, when not confined; the will or mind is at liberty, when not checked or controlled. A man enjoys liberty, when no physical force operates to restrain his actions or volitions.2. Natural liberty, consists in the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. It is a state of exemption from the control of others, and from positive laws and the institutions of social life. This liberty is abridged by the establishment of government.
10. To take the liberty to do or say any thing, to use freedom not specially granted.
Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
George Barnard Shaw
I first learned about a book entitled: Woe Unto You Lawyers by Fred Rodell
when I read a quotation from it in some other article I was reading. Lucky
me, I was able to find a copy of this unusual book in a used book store.
It was published in 1939.
Mr. Rodell, who was a Professor of Law at Yale University for many years,
presents a lusty, gusty attack on what he calls THE LAW, from tribal times to the present.
He writes in his preface: No lawyer will like this book, because it was
not written for lawyers. He relates also to his realization early on of
the phoniness of the whole legal process.
It is the lawyers who run our civilization for us--- he says. All the
judges (a judge is a lawyer who knew a governor, the author relates) are
lawyers; they interpret and enforce our laws, he continues. There is no
separation of powers where the lawyers are concerned..... only a
concentration of all governmental power --- in the lawyers.
All around us in our daily lives, the author explains, that lawyers guide
us through a maze of confusing gestures and formalities that the lawyers
have created. But the amazing thing about all this is, THE LAW is carried
on in a foreign language..... the law deals almost exclusively with the
ordinary facts and occurrence of everyday business.... But it deals with
them in a Jargon which completely baffles and befoozles the ordinary
Unfortunately this happens to be so and the lawyers want to keep it this
way because, the lawyers' trade is a trade built entirely on words.
Furthermore, lawyers, like the medicine men of tribal times, actually
believe in their own nonsense, and the general public doesn't even realize
that it is merely a racket. If the people could just be made to understand
how much THE LAW is a hoax, they would not let the lawyers lead them
around by the nose.
THE LAW, relates Mr. Rodell, is all things to all lawyers simply because
the principles on which it is built are so vague, abstract and irrelevant
that it is possible to find in those principles both a justification and a
prohibition of every human action of activity under the sun.
Mr. Rodell continues to explain that actually we have brought all this
upon ourselves. In our daily actions and goings-on, if man just could be
trusted to act decently, in general there would be little need for a law
of any kind. It is a rather disconcerting fact to learn that mankind has
stooped so low, that no one can trust anyone else anymore.
In the chapter titled THE LAW AT ITS SUPREMEST the distinguished law
professor touches on constitutional law and its fundamental concepts.
-1- He states, what all informed already know, that if Congress, any
state, city or village enacts a law that is forbidden by the Constitution,
that law might just as well never have been enacted. In order to get around some of the wording of the Constitution the Supreme Court has
evolved a batch of principles, sub-principles and hocus-pocus of solemn
words spoken with a straight face, meaning intrinsically nothing.
The author also points out, as we all know, that one man, one judge, holds
the meaning of the Constitution in his hands. Lawyers and Judges are
merely trained mechanics in the manipulation of that machine known as THE LAW.
They take a problem, translate it into the appropriate legal symbols, push
the buttons on the big machine (perhaps the author referred to to days
computers already?) that corresponds to those symbols, and the right
answer automatically pops out at the bottom.
Mr. Rodell states: the lawyers know it would woe unto them, if the
non-lawyers ever got wise to the fact that their lives were run by a
comparatively small group of men, smart, smooth and smug, the lawyers. It
is the lawyers, and not THE LAW that run the show, and it is the lawyers
and the lawyer-judges who decide which buttons to push.
Have you ever wondered about all the legal language in a contract or any
document that was drafted or prepared by a lawyer? If your lawyer ever
told you that they were drawn up for your protection and to keep you out
of court, don't you ever believe a word of it. Legal papers are phrased
the way they are, NOT to keep you out of court, but in order to give you a
better chance of winning should the affair ever end up in a court room.
In fact, lawyers, with their strange language, no doubt increase the
number of transactions that end up in dispute. If they would let men carry
on their affairs and make agreements in simple and specific terms, in
words intelligible to those involved, there would be fewer
mis-understandings and less causes for grievance. Almost all legal
sentences have a way of reading as though they had been translated from
German by some-one with a rather meager knowledge of English. The
sentences are usually too long, awkward with the use of abstract, fuzzy
and clumsy words, which are so essential to the solemn hocus-pocus of THE
LAW. No segment of the English language in use today is so muddy, so
confusing, so hard to pin down to its supposed meaning, as is the language
of THE LAW. (the meaning of the "IS" word as was demonstrated by the
former president may be cited as such an example)
To the non-lawyer, the legal language is, for all intents and purposes a
foreign tongue. Why should people not be privileged to understand
precisely and completely any written laws that directly affects them?
Since law deals with the ordinary affairs of ordinary human beings, then
why should a language be used which they cannot hope to understand? The fact of the matter is, it is for the lawyers' benefit and not the ordinary
The various principles and rules that lawyers often use in presenting
their language have nothing to do with the solution of the problem. They
are called pleading and procedure which encompass the rules as to how the
legal game is played. In fact the decisional outcome of a case is very
often hung up on some procedural rule. Justice is simply thrown out the
window because a lawyer violated some rule. Thus, a man with a legal claim
may end up with nothing, except a bill for the lawyer's fees, simply
because his lawyer has been caught using the wrong words. Please
understand, this is all part of the tricks of the trade.
However, one of the most startling revelations the author made is, that
THE LAW not only can be bought --- but most of the time, it must be
bought. Since it has to be bought its results tend to favor those who can
afford to hire the services of the smartest lawyers.
This fact coincides with the fact that THE LAW as a whole is a fraud. THE
LAW simply could not be bought, if it was the protector of justice, which
the lawyers claim it to be.
Most of the business that lawyers handle and live on is made up of matters
that never get near a courtroom --- of what is called "Legal Advise". This
amounts to casting spells of legal language over the working of business
documents so that the documents, if they ever should be dragged into
court, will show that regardless of where non-legal justice may seem to
lie, THE LAW is pretty clearly on the side that bought the legal advice.
The hitch is that as soon as one side resorts to legal advice, the other
side has to use it too in self-defense. Thus every-one loses EXCEPT THE
LAWYERS, who go merrily on selling THE LAW.
But when a lawyer becomes a judge, he no longer has a direct financial
incentive to manipulate THE LAW in favor of the rich people and the big
corporations. However, he will usually have spent most of his professional
career, before becoming a judge, doing just that. And when he becomes a
judge he cannot easily shake off this slant towards THE LAW .
Conditioned by his own past habits of legal speech and thought, the judge
will unconsciously lean, in laying down THE LAW, towards the side that
talks his own brand of legal dialect. "What is to be done about the fact
that we all are slaves to the hocus-pocus of THE LAW --- and to those who
practice this hocus-pocus, the lawyers, the author ponders.
There is only one answer --- which is get rid of the lawyers and throw their THE LAW out of the our system of law. And this is not a plea for
anarchy. It would only be necessary to do away with the present manner of
phrasing and later interpreting the written laws and with the present
manner of settling disputes and solving problems. It would only be
necessary to do away with all the legal language and all the legal
principles which confuse instead of clarifying the real issues that arise
between men. Again, this is not a plea for anarchy; it is merely a plea
for common sense.
The LAW, in reaching for certainty with one hand and justice with the
other, has fallen between the two into a morass of meaningless and useless
language. The sensible thing to do would seem to be by going straight
after justice in the settlement of any specific question that comes up for
solution. When the written laws cannot or so not contain the answer,
SOMEBODY has to make a decision. That decision might better be made on the
grounds of plain, unvarnished justice, fairness and humanitarianism than
Today it is the Lawyer-Judges who make such decisions, but the ordinary
man knows as much about justice as does the ordinary judge. As a matter of
fact, he usually knows more. Training in law does not make a man a better
judge of justices. It is likely to make him a worse one. What kind of man
should sit in judgement of others? Why not one with common sense knowledge,
instead of one with the adeptness in the abracadabra of THE LAW, have the
right to sit in judgement of other men's affairs?
Mr. Rodell goes on to say: "Why should we keep on sacrificing both justice
and common sense on the altar of legal principles? Why not just get rid of
the Lawyers and their Laws?" He sees no reason why this should not be
done. Of course, Constitutions and laws would have to be re-written
without the benefit of Lawyers. Any law that means something definite and
tangible in relation to human affairs can be written so that its meaning
is plain for all to read and understand.
He gives as an example of the phrase, "First Degree Murder". ---- It makes
no sense except in relation to the abstract legal principles which are
said to define it. --- "When a court finds that one person has killed
another person and believes that the killer deserves to be electrocuted"
is much more accurate. Why not phrase the statue that way, so that
everyone would immediately know what it means?
Of course, there would still have to be courts, even though written laws
were made intelligible to all. There would have to be decision-makers to
determine the true facts behind any dispute, and to settle any disputes
which are not covered by written laws.
Getting rid of the lawyers would mean people who got involved in disputes
or got hauled up for alleged violation of some written law would have to
tell their own stories and produce their own proof. Why not let the people
really involved in any squabble tell and try to prove to the satisfaction
of the decision-makers, their own lies?
The abolition of the lawyers and their LAW might eventually lead to the
virtual disappearance of courts as we see/know them today. Written law
might even be entrusted to a body of experts, to administer it, i.e.
doctors, engineers, accountants, etc. Arbitration might be used as a means
of settling disputes. Arbitration means nothing more than a voluntary
turning over of a dispute for fair settlement to a man or group of men
trusted by both sides and equipped to understand the question at issue.
All this sounds too good to ever be accomplished.
But Mr. Rodell has presented a picture that many can certainly identify
with in having had a situational experience before and many of us are
probably aware of what this unusual book says.
However, it is a consoling fact when this comes from of all people --- a
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