The Corruption of Justice - EC348
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This is R. J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 348, October the fourth, 1995.
This evening Douglas Murray, Andrew Sandlin, Mark Rushdoony and I will discuss the corruption of justice. This has not been a good year for the judiciary of the United States nor for the federal government. A number of sensational trials culminating the in Simpson case and a number of congressional hearings that were publicized let the American people in on the fact that our system is not what it should be.
Of course, it did not get there overnight. I recall—and there is a long, long history of a miscarriage of justice and racism injustice and the like—but in the late 40s when I was on the Indian reservation I reported something to some authorities and then to the grand jury and it led to an investigation in which it seemed to be that the law authority in a particular area was arresting any Indian, male or female, who was mildly drunk, to share them down, throw them in jail over night and to rape the females.
It was very interesting to see what happened in that trial, because a tremendous amount of money was poured into fighting the case, fighting for an acquittal which was the result. And everything was done to so befuddle the Indians who were testifying that they hardly knew what to say after a few objections by the defense attorney and they were unable to speak out as a result. That was a very vivid introduction to injustice in the courts. [00:03:00]
Then about 23, 22 years ago I sat in court and watched...
Then about 23, 22 years ago I sat in court and watched another case, not that I hadn't watched others as well, but this was interesting from another perspective. The trial was held because our daughter Joanna who was working in a women’s dress shop or a clothing shop, a very expensive place, had a group of people come in working together buying everything in sight and Joanna was immediately suspicious. They are not ready to try anything on she concluded. They must have stolen credit cards.
The manager of the store was unwilling to do anything because this looked like such a big sale, but Joanna is stubborn in case nobody has noticed. And she held her ground. And the manager reluctantly did something and, sure enough, these were professional thieves. They were taken to court. They had a great many stolen credit cards on their possession, in their possession.
Now the appalling thing in the case—and this is why I have chosen that particular trial—was that the defense attorney confronted with such overwhelming evidence acted as though the police had planted the cards or something like that. The whole point of his argument was a premise that was totally fictitious, totally at odds with the facts and the policeman was treated as though he were a criminal. This was in a court in Los Angeles.
Now it was a sickening case, because he wondered how police would put up with such a thing without losing their temper.
I cite those two examples to call attention to a problem. The criminal has all kinds of rights. The person on trial has all kinds of rights as to how you can question him, what kind of evidence you can introduce and so on. But there are no like immunities for the police officer or the complainant. And we have reached a very sorry state as a result. [00:06:19]
It is no wonder that Governor Wilson in the wake of...
It is no wonder that Governor Wilson in the wake of the Simpson trial has said that something has to be done to limit the abuse of the police. He didn’t put it that baldly, but that is what he said. We do have a very, very serious problem, a growing problem. The unhappy fact is that this condition was created by the courts on appeals. The state supreme courts, the federal judiciary, the US Supreme Court they have all worked to make conviction more and more difficult and the English spectator recently called attention to the fact that in England the kind of evidence that is admissible works two ways. There are decisions that say certain kinds of evidence are totally inadmissible and other decisions that give a contrary opinion. The courts there have actually said that if someone like a police woman in a particular case who was talking to a criminal, a man who was bragging of a particular murder, that she had no right to have a hidden tape recorder on her body without notifying him that you are being taped.
Now that is truly absurd. But this is the kind of situation the courts have created. Today we have in most states the death penalty again. But there are thousands of people on death row because the courts are doing everything to stall their execution because they are against the death penalty.
Well, with that general introduction, Douglas, would you like to comment on the problem? You have an experience in law enforcement.
[Murray] Well, the ... the courts have become with a very few notable exceptions theaters of the absurd.
[Murray] From the Supreme Court down to your local municipal courts. They have become politicized from the Supreme Court down to the local courts to the extent that we are now getting the kind of government we deserve and we are now getting the kind of justice that we deserve. [00:09:36]
We no longer demand that a biblical standard be followed...
We no longer demand that a biblical standard be followed in our criminal justice system. And, in fact, the lawyers being trained today are trained along the lines of whatever is relative to the times, whatever is relevant to the times, whatever people, the majority of the people want. There is no standard. The... no judicial standard. The laws have become so Byzantine and complex which is the same as the IRS rules and a lot of other regulations that our government runs by, nobody understands them anymore. The lawyers don’t understand the law. The ... most of the judges don’t know the ... understand the law, because it has become too relative. They rely, try to rely too heavily on case law because that kind of gives them a consensus of what other people in the judiciary are thinking and so they will take a position not too far from the prevailing thinking in the judiciary.
So it has gradually dumbed itself down to the point where there is no standard. It is what are they... make it up as they go along. We have all heard the cliché that the law is whatever the judges say it is. There is... the people in this country no longer can rely on what the Constitution says. They can no longer rely any longer on what the laws that govern our daily lives say. So there is really only one standard left, but the courts have turned away from it and the people have turned away from it and that is the biblical standard which started the whole thing in the first place. And that is where we have gotten lost.
Police officers are human beings and the are frustrated to the point of many of them of virtually giving up. And they go from day to day, from situation to situation and their job is not to dispense justice. Their job is to stop crimes in progress, to keep the peace, in other words. That is the responsibility that they are charged with. Any police officer who steps over the line and starts to dispense justice is in trouble and, in fact, we are all in trouble when that happens. [00:12:23]
The attorneys, everybody, you know, watches Perry Mason...
The attorneys, everybody, you know, watches Perry Mason and Matlock and so forth on television and they think that these kindly wise gentlemen are in effect, have the ... have the power and the wisdom of judges and they don’t. They are advocates. They have become... they do not seek justice. They seek a result. They are hired guns. And when they go into court they do whatever they have to do short of going to jail themselves in order to get a desired result. And the ones that get the results are the ones who are paid the best. And one of the problems in the legal system is that we have law schools that are turning out cheap attorneys. They are people who really don’t have the grey matter, the ability to think. They may know some of the law, but they don’t have the ability to think and they have been brought up on this legal relativity theory and it is ... it is down to the level... whatever they can get by the judge is what they can get by with and we have too many attorneys. And too many of them are very poor quality. It is not the ... the legal system is not very self regulating and there are periods of time when the law schools, because of popularity of a television program—if you can imagine such a thing. When L A Law first came on the air because it glamorized the... the money and the power and the sex and so forth on television, suddenly there was a great upsurge in the number of young people applying for law school. Obviously going into the law for, in their mind, all of the right reasons, but for the ... for the ultimate health of the... the legal system in this country, they are going into it for all of the wrong reasons.
And the ... the... the system is in trouble and I think the lawyers know it. The judges know it. The police know it. And the people now are beginning to see because of events over the past few years, recent trials, the people are beginning to see that the system is not working and you ... you can’t blame the... I mean, you can blame the police as individuals when they get out of control, but you take a dog and chain him up and whip him long enough and they will turn on you. And the ... and you are going to have isolated instances of police who turn rogue, who go bad. But they are not supermen. [00:15:25]
And there was a time in this country when the police...
And there was a time in this country when the police were looked up to. They were the ... the backbone of the community. But now a greater and greater segment of people are suspicious and wary and don’t want to have anything, don’t even want to talk to a police officer. They are, in fact, they are social outcasts and socially isolated and they have a very difficult time. Fifty percent of their marriages go bad or more. They have a very... they have a high rate of suicide. Next to dentists, they have one of the highest rates of suicides in this country of any profession. And there is obviously something wrong when you have those kinds of numbers. So those are all symptoms of an overall problem in the... in the legal system in this country. But the... the ... the ... the answer is going to have to come from the bottom up, not from the top down. And people are going to have to realize that the standard is going to have to be God’s Word and biblical law and we either get back to that or we continue to descend into the path... down the path of chaos and anarchy. And we are getting where.... where... we are at the... we are at the threshold of anarchy now and it doesn’t take very much to set it off and we have seen numerous instances over the past few years that it doesn't take... I mean, just the power going off, electrical power going off causes anarchy. It causes looting. Inclement weather, which has been around for a long time, that sets people off and they start looting, you know, down in the Caribbean islands, in the Virgin Islands. All they had to do was have a little hurricane activity and right away everybody ran out and started looting all of the businesses and stores.
When it gets to the point where a judicial decision makes an entire city live in... in terror because they fear the... the results, we can’t be very far from a total collapse into anarchy.
[Voice] It is prudent to get some historical perspective on this. How did we get into this mess? Why don’t we discuss that? I mean, Rush has pointed out wisely that law is inescapably religious. Thus, the corruption of the judiciary reflects a change in the religious system, the religious ethos of a nation. We want to talk about Oliver Wendell Holmes, earlier than that, ones here that have a little more memory than maybe Mark and I do. Where? How did this happen? How did this develop?
[Voice] Well, I... I pursuant to that and... and to what Doug... Douglas was saying. The ... we don’t have a... a justice system. We have a judicial system. We have a system of rules and decisions that have been handed down over generations and many, very often they conflict or completely do an about face on a policy and a judicial proceeding or... or policy that was in existence before. And the difference is going back to the concept of law is we don’t have a justice system. We don’t believe that there is a basic justice, based in an absolute truth. Our whole political system is based on the fact that we obey the laws created by man. And now... and we have created a court system, now, or we have allowed a court system to develop which now is making laws in addition to those made by our legislatures. So we are under this means of rules which are changing all the time and we have to have high priced lawyers, teams of lawyers even to sort through the decisions, the precedents, what the precedents, what is admissible, what isn’t admissible, what this decision was and justice is completely lost because there can be no justice when we are talking about man made laws.
[Voice] That is right.
[Voice] Everything is on the table and justice is not the key. It is whether we abide by the laws. And every judge has to be guided by the... the principle. I can make the decision that I want, but I will be overturned on appeal.
In the case of the O J Simpson trial some of the... they were even going to another judge to appeal decisions before the trail was even over. So there... there is no justice system. They are following rules. And as man progresses and has more and more rules, it is beginning more and more bizarre and less and less justice is coming out of our court system. And that is all we have. We have a court system. We don’t have a justice system.
[Voice] And maybe we should also say the multiplication of laws is almost always a bad sign. Some of our forefathers recognized that. They would be aghast at the number of laws.
[Voice] And as... you.. Douglas was talking, I was thinking of something that just happened at school today. Boys were talking in the rest room and I had to ask. I... I said, “Were you talking in the rest room?” Well, so and so was talking and I said, “I am not interested in that. Were you talking in the rest room?” Yes. Are you supposed to talk in the rest rooms? No. And I could ... I could administer a penalty right then because they had broken the rule and their excuses on why it was all right to talk in the rest room or who else was talking weren’t really relevant to the fact of what they had done. I could go to the basic justice of that they were disobeying. Whereas if I had appealed... let them appeal to all their rules and excuses and alibis, the principle of the rule could have gotten completely lost. [00:21:25]
[Voice] That is right...
[Voice] That is right.
[Voice] And that is what we are doing in our courts today. We are following all the rules and following all the procedures so that everything will fall into place in appeals and the judges... because if a judge is overruled, if a judge thinks something is wrong, he just makes a ruling that he thinks is the right thing to do, and it won’t hold up on appeal. That looks very bad for a judge when he wants to be promoted. If a judge has been overruled repeatedly by higher courts he will not get appointed to a higher court, which is what most judges would... would... would like to see.
[Rushdoony] One of the things that has happened in my lifetime is that the public perception of lawyers has changed. When I was a child and when I was growing up and in my early years as a pastor, a judge did not have the crowded calendar that he does now. If there were a trial it got on the calendar almost immediately. Pick your take. That was it.
That was because the number of criminal lawyers needed then was slight compared to today. The lawyers were corporate lawyers and so on, specializing in a number of fields. And their work was a respected kind of work. But with the rise of crime which was not created by the lawyers, it created a growing demand for the criminal lawyer and it has created a very different kind of lawyer than we have had in the past.
One of the most famous criminal lawyers in California in the, oh, era between the two wars and a little bit after, was Jake Ehrlich. Jake Ehrlich in San Francisco was a very, very powerful criminal lawyer and if you were in deep trouble or you had committed a crime, you went to Jake Ehrlich. But Jake Ehrlich was something of a scholar as well. And he actually wrote a book on the Bible and law. He analyzed there the biblical foundations of our law system. [00:24:17]
Now there are not many criminal lawyers today could...
Now there are not many criminal lawyers today could produce such a book or would even be interested in producing it. So it has been a totally different kind of scene in recent years and the image of the lawyer comes from a criminal lawyer.
This is why they have a bad reputation, lawyers as a whole. And it is understandable. I know times when I have been totally furious by what people on our mailing list tell me that they have experienced and what criminal lawyers have done. It is a fortune of the profession that has declined dramatically.
Related to that is a point made, oh, not too long ago by a prominent black in which he objected to the idea that most policemen were bad eggs and he said, “You can also hear some people say that most creatures are no good.” And he said, “I will make a generalization. In any profession in our time, roughly 10 percent are bad eggs.”
Well, given our culture we should not be surprised by that. But if that 10 percent is in a position to give prominence to itself, it is going to throw a bad light on everyone else in their profession. So whether it is politicians or lawyers or ministers or teachers, you name it. You are going to have a percentage that are bad and they are going to be the most conspicuous, especially if there is a great deal of attention given to their particular line of work.
[Voice] Well, I think you are... on the police when you ... when you look at our culture and what police did 50 or 60 years ago and what would motivate someone at that time to go into police work or even 30 or 40 years ago, is different than what is going through somebody’s mind who wants to go into police work today. When you look at our... our culture and what is happening and what they have to face every day, a lot of people who would make fine police officers and who are ... would be a credit to the profession don’t want any part of that. They don’t want to deal with that element every day. [00:27:22]
[Voice] It would be too defeating. And the fact is that when they... when they see a lot of these people on the streets. They see them back and they don't really see any... any resolution as far as justice goes, they ... they have to enjoy the activity of being the police officer. And there are a lot of different things which might motivate someone to enjoy that. And the macho guy who likes the uniform and likes the badge, he likes people seeing him with a big shiny gun on his hip and a... and the badge, this doesn't necessarily lead to the right kind of person going into law enforcement.
[Voice] Well, they get hooked on the excitement.
[Voice] Somebody told me 20 years ago that... that cops either love it or they hate it and they look for an opportunity to get out. And if some of them think it is too late to get out and they go through it hating their job all along.
[Voice] In many cases it is glamorized, but as Douglas will tell us, most of police work is not glamorous at all.
[Voice] No, it is long periods... I think there is an old cliché that long periods of boredom punctuated by a few moments of stark terror.
Rush, I wanted to ask you. It seems to me that in recent years, recent sensational trials, that the ... the judges are being ridiculed now routinely by the media. They are caricatured. They are the butt of jokes if it is any kind of a sensational trial as we have seen recently. And how can the general population have any respect for law under those conditions?
[Rushdoony] Well, there is less and less respect for the law. A judge no matter who he was or what he was, was still given respect. Even judges who had a problem with alcohol which was not uncommon were still treated with respect because their office entitled them to it. And people felt that it was like flag burning to show a disrespect for people in authority. Of course, they didn’t even dream of flag burning in those days. But you get the idea. [00:30:06]
It has been a part of the general disrespect that has...
It has been a part of the general disrespect that has come in. I think it began with the family. I can recall the shock I felt coming from an old country type of background when I heard boys at school talking about their old man. That shocked me. You never talked like that and it was none of the foreign born or those who grew up in an immigrant family that ever spoke that way. It was those who had been here for some time, some generations. So we have had a democratic spirit, I think you would have to call it, that has lowered everybody to one’s own level so that even children could speak disrespectfully of their fathers, of teachers, old lady Jones, that type of remark.
If I had ever talked that way about a teacher I would have gotten slapped.
[Voice] And then you would wake up on the other side of the room.
[Voice] I wanted to ask you, also. A lot of people feel that perhaps the judiciary should not be picked from practicing attorneys. They should be men who have studied the law all of their lives and law professors, university law professors and perhaps don’t have any trial attorney experience. It seems that there is a great deal of cynicism has grown up because people will say the attorneys who can’t make a living practicing law become legislators and write the laws. And then after a certain period of time they run for judgeships. Now judgeships don’t pay very well compared to what a trial attorney can make. The average trial attorney who is worth his salt can make at least 250 to 350 or a thousand dollars a year or more and a judge maybe makes 70 or 80,000 dollars a year. So what would motivate an.... a... a good attorney to want a judgeship? So I just wonder what you thought about this matriculation process, whether it is good for the system or bad for the system.
[Rushdoony] That is ... as I have said on other occasions, it used to be that a judge was an older man who was part of a major law firm and now that he was older the law firm would run him for a judgeship as a kind of reward. He would be cut in on the firm’s profits. He would excuse himself if there were a conflict of interest. [00:33:22]
This, for years, gave us, especially in our big cities...
This, for years, gave us, especially in our big cities, superior judges. But that is no longer tolerated. And judgeships are given to political hacks much of the time. This is not to say that there aren’t some fine judges there, men who feel they have a calling in that area. But we have had a decline.
Then attempts to get outstanding law professors in have largely failed. The two most notable attempts in recent years were efforts to make Charles Rice of the Notre Dame Law School, a very remarkable man, a candidate of the Supreme Court. But his name was always dropped out in the process. And then John T. Noonan, the Californian, a great law professor and writer of note. But, again, his name was dropped out.
It is interesting that in both cases the men, Rice and Noonan, were Catholics. Rice very conservative, Noonan, not so, but both brilliant scholars.
The Catholics have produced better lawyers precisely because they have not separated the faith from the teaching of law. In other law schools they are overwhelmingly secular in the two or three instances where they are Protestant, they still not done much more than to mimic the secular humanistic law schools.
[Voice] So the problem really is in the screening or selection process.
[Voice] Because bar associations now have to pass on the qualifications of an individual to become a judge. State bar associations, if they don’t give their ok, the guy doesn’t get in. And the state bar associations are almost all to the left, particularly in the major states. So the state bar associations are not the best source of recommendations. [00:36:18]
We are not getting the best men recommended...
We are not getting the best men recommended. Of the men whom Republican and Democratic presidents have named to the Supreme Court since World War II, the majority have been of mediocre qualifications.
[Voice] Mark, you were talking earlier about the jury system today and I want to make the comment in light of the Simpson trial that it seems that juries are more and more susceptible to emotional arguments and less and less relying on the facts of the case. I think that was particularly evident in the ... the Simpson trial. And I think Johnny Cochran was especially guilty of that sort of thing.
How prevalent is that and would anybody care to discuss that?
[Voice] Well, there... there is a factor involved here. We touched on it here with the screening process and the judiciary where, as far as I am concerned, it is judicial tampering. And we are now seeing jury tampering even before the jury is empanelled. We see instead of just preemptory challenges to get rid of somebody because they don’t have the mental capacity to understand the nature of scientific evidence or whatever is going to be presented, people they... they now have jury selection
[Voice] Yes, right.
[Voice] And these people are running profiles are or running psychological evaluations and to find out if this is an emotional person, a person who yields to emotional arguments and so forth. So, you know, they... they sent Jimmy Hoffa to jail for tampering with a jury and yet the... the... the legal process is now tampering with the jury system with this stupid selection process to get a result.
[Voice] And that requires money, which means that...
[Voice] Well, the whole thing is about money.
[Voice] Nobody would do this for nothing.
[Voice] So defendants that have a lot of money can buy justice. That is what you are implying.
[Voice] And that is another violation of biblical law.
[Rushdoony] Well, one of the things that makes it impossible to get a good jury is that at three dollar a day, how many competent people are going to sit on a jury? How many people can afford to take time off from their work. [00:39:12]
In one instance I heard of a businessman who when someone...
In one instance I heard of a businessman who when someone who worked for him was called to jury duty said, “I will pay you your full salary because you are a thoughtful, decent man and I would like to see someone like you on the jury.”
But that doesn’t happen very often.
[Rushdoony] Now the last time I was called for jury duty—and I have never served on a jury—because when you find... they find that you are a minister you are disqualified. I do think that somebody ought to put up the money and fight that to the Supreme Court, that excluding a minister should be considered a serious offense. Now if a black is excluded, that is ... the very serious offence. Why ministers? Are you afraid of a moral perspective?
[Voice] That is right.
[Rushdoony] Well, the last time I was called for jury duty and the panel was chosen before I ever got up there, but I sat and watched and what was happening was this. The number one choices were older women, retired, widows preferably...
[Voice] Who watch soap operas.
[Rushdoony] ...watching soap operas all day long. And questions were asked that pointed directly to that qualification. And they were relying on the discretion of the jurors to feel an empathy for the person on trial. And I was told by someone if the girl were sleazy as all get out, dressed in torn jeans and unclean from head to foot, dirty hair, she was cleaned up to look like your neighbor’s sweet little girl and that if possible they would try to persuade the men on trial, the young men to get a haircut and to dress neatly and so on so that someone told me once they could not recognize at once the ... the person on trial from what they had seen at the time of the arrest. [00:42:22]
[Voice] Well, it is part of the theater of the court...
[Voice] Well, it is part of the theater of the court. It is ... it is not reality any longer.
[Rushdoony] The theater of the absurd as you said earlier.
[Voice] Yeah. Everything is not what it seems.
[Voice] Well, as I understand the whole concept of a jury, a jury emerged from the concept that here were injustices by the nobility, by the kings and a jury was to be ... to represent justice by the people who were sometimes oppressed and so that a man could not be convicted except by his own peers. And that is fine as long as you have a core of people who ... that you can draw on that believe in justice and that ... that ... in which there is some... still integrity. And once you destroy the integrity. Once society has devolved, as we have seen it to a certain level, there is no more justice in the hearts of the people than there is in a particular judge or a government or anywhere else. It is everybody what they feel.
[Voice] Yeah, we are just going through the motions now where we... we have got the form, but not the substance. I am sure that our founding fathers of this country were following the kiss principle, keep it simple, stupid. And, you know, they didn’t want all of these rules. We have broadened what constitutes a... a juror to the point of an absurdity. The fact of excluding either a police officer or excluding a minister or excluding anybody else because of their profession is ridiculous. The only qualifications there should be for a jury ... a juror is that he is an adult and that he has not been in a mental institution and is smart enough, got enough between his ears to be able to understand what is being said. And, you know, a person ... a person... a reasonable character and a reasonable judgment. And occupation should have nothing to do with it, with whether they can serve on a jury.
[Voice] I think part of it, just in the limited comments I heard from the O J Simpson trial that that was... that really concerned me was I think this falls back on ... on the... on the educational system and we... they were apparently some of them, if not... or all of them were not capable of understanding scientific evidence. A forewoman of that trial said she had never heard of DNA until the trial. This is something you have in ever high school science class.
[Voice] This has... this has been around. The DNA has been sine the 50s. Somebody won Nobel prize for it in the 50s for... for developing... Watson and Crick, I believe, for developing the... the model of ... of DNA. And it forms the basics of so much modern science and that they had never heard of it until the trial. And one of the jurors said they completely ignored the scientific evidence. They called it garbage in, garbage out. [00:45:31]
[Voice] Well, I think the reason that they are ignoring...
[Voice] Well, I think the reason that they are ignoring it because I don’t think anybody trusts it. Whether it is done with the... whether the science is done right or not, it wasn’t around when the founding fathers set up our judicial system, you know, and it hasn’t been around for the bulk of the history of this country. So the vast majority of people in this country who were daily treated to conflicting scientific evidence, whether it is drink coffee, don’t drink coffee, you know, eat vegetables or not, we are continually bombarded with these conflicting statements by supposed experts on everything from soup to nuts. So nobody believes in anything and they are certainly not going to trust their lives and fortunes to something even if it has overwhelming statistical validity. They are not going to put their lives in jeopardy or ... or put in... or have to put anybody else lives in jeopardy because of DNA evidence.
[Voice] I don’t... I don’t think that was the problem. I don't think they understood what it was. I don’t think they had a basic knowledge of high school science, because on the basis of much high school biology is the idea that DNA, chromosomes are unique to every individual. That is what makes us unique. That is what determines our hair color and everything else. So it does create a distinction from one... from one sample to another.
[Voice] Yes. Why... why should we trust so called experts like Fong and the rest of these guys to get up on the witness stand and tell us what to think about scientific evidence? If it is ... if it is so useful, then the average person should be able to understand without a scientific background. Everybody understands what the murder weapon is. Everybody understands what a witness is. Everybody understands what has traditionally been the basic factors that go into convicting somebody. Nobody understands scientific evidence and nobody trusts that except the attorneys because they think it is a powerful and persuasive argument, simply because they can bamboozle juries with it. They can whip them back and forth any way they want to depending on who has got the best experts. The same with the psychiatrists who supposedly can tell whether somebody is crazy or not. Nobody pressed those people.
[Voice] But that is... that is quite subjective. Psychoanalysis is entirely subjective.
[Voice] Yeah, I...
[Rushdoony] There is an important aspect here to the matter of the juries. The old phrase is a trial by a jury of your peers. That phrase began back in medieval England when the peers of the realm, the lords, the dukes, the barons did not want to be tried by anyone below them or by the king ruling against them. They wanted their own kind. They wanted barons and dukes and the like to be on the jury who would understand their world and the problems of it. [00:48:51]
[Rushdoony] Now, we have had in recent years trials that involved very definitely technical knowledge of the market. It was easy to convince ignorant juries that these brokers were crooks.
[Voice] That is right.
[Rushdoony] When very often there was no law governing that. What they did was not dishonest. But they were creating a new crime and convinced everybody that this was a great evil from way back. And it led to conviction. And this is true in a number of professions. If I were a lawyer, I would not want people who were non lawyers, who have a hostility to the lawyers on a jury. If I were being tried for having done something, lawyers would best understand whether I were guilty or innocent.
[Rushdoony] And the same is true of police officers.
[Voice] Who, incidentally, that is the reason that police officers are not allowed to serve on juries is because they get raked over the coals so consistently by attorneys that...
[Voice] ... the attorneys don’t want them on that.
[Voice] ... on a ... on a jury.
[Rushdoony] Well, the point is our juries now are picked for their ignorance and the result is the jury system is now bad except in some states like Wyoming with a small population where the jury is likely to be good solid working men or ranchers and the like. These people have an ... hard headed integrity. But I have sat in courtrooms more than once and the jury has not impressed me with any hard headed integrity.
[Voice] Well, they probably don’t get most television out in those areas of Wyoming. So that... not tainted with that.
[Voice] Mark made a good point a couple of minutes ago. I think the Constitution presupposes a Christian ethos and one reason that we can’t have justice today is because our religious views have changed. You can’t rely upon a jury that doesn’t have a concept of justice. So it is bad all the way around. Those framers weren’t perfect men, wouldn’t agree with all of us theologically, weren’t all Calvinists. But they were influenced, many of them were Christians, the ones that weren’t were influenced by a Christian ethos. But that is... that is gone today. [00:51:47]
John Adams said after the Constitution was ratified that it would be a mistake to expect too much from it, that it presupposed a strong Christian people and without it, it would be worthless.
[Voice] Some people put too much faith in documents.
[Voice] Documents will not save us.
[Rushdoony] No. Documents will not supply character.
[Voice] That is right. Exactly right.
[Voice] Is it... excuse me.
[Voice] Is it possible to reform our judicial system?
[Rushdoony] I don’t think it can be reformed without a return to biblical law. Today we have at the basis of our justice system an idea of law which is humanistic and we are progressively dropping anything biblical so that we have actually had people question whether murder should be called a crime because it represents a mental disease and so on. And so that how can we have a judicial system and laws when people are totally devoid of any character, any knowledge of God’s law and the law that is invented as man’s law. We are progressively replacing the few remnants of God’s law still on the books with man made substitutes.
[Voice] Something that Andrew mentioned is about buying, you know, the high priced attorneys and is ... is the fact that justice, even if it is acquired through... through the court system, can destroy you financially. Is that justice? Is it justice if it... if it costs you a fortune and all your wealthy? Is that ... is that justice?
[Rushdoony] That is a very important point and it was wrestled with a long time ago. This is why in the colonial period there were colonies which forbade lawyers to exist in that in their boundaries and to practice their calling. And their reason was that they recognized that justice can destroy a person if it is costly. [00:54:25]
Well, the answer to that was that most of the early...
Well, the answer to that was that most of the early states adopted the English common law and the meditation on a lawyer’s fees were very, very strict. In terms of today’s world, ridiculously low. I think they ran something like 25 and 50 dollars a case. Well, this is why common law, which is really biblical law, was shoved to the side lines. Law schools, by and large do not teach it. It is still is on the book of some states, most notably New York and California. So that occasionally a judge who knows the common law will make a sweeping decision that pays no attention to the statutes.
I know that about 25 years ago a land mark decision was made in California by judge Armand Arabian who is now in the state Supreme Court in which I believe he ruled it illegal the usual kind of routine that a raped woman was put through so that now she doesn’t have a great deal of the humiliation that was once the case. And yet the trial can proceed in terms of the facts.
So occasionally we still do have a fall back by some judge on common law, because common law moves and I hesitate to speak because I am not a lawyer, in terms of general rules of equity, it can be more radical and more conservative because it can say we are paying no attention to the statutes. We are interested in justice. [00:57:02]
Well, our time is up...
Well, our time is up. Thank you all for listening and God bless you.