Rule of Law

All laws are equal, but some laws are more equal than others. (apologies to Orwell)

Or to put it in the vernacular of an Aussie oil commercial, “Laws ain’t laws!”

The law landscape is becoming muddier in recent decades, so this article is an attempt to clear the mud and distil a simple grid of reference that allows ordinary people to understand the law as far as it impacts them.

Some Foundational Principles

Law is that body of obligations to which everyone is bound, from the king to the chambermaid. The term ‘rule of law’ refers to the fact that everyone is bound by the law. No-one can escape their obligation to obey the laws.

But straight away we have a problem. Some laws are universal, such as laws against murder and theft. Everyone is bound by those laws and responsible not to break them.

However, there are in-house laws for employees or club members. Those laws are not universal and cannot be forced upon people who are not employees or members of the club.

For the purpose of this article we shall look only at those laws which apply to us all.

Foundation of Law

Everything must have a foundation, otherwise it will not stand. Things built on a firm foundation stand longer and stronger than things built on sand.

The original foundation for English law, which is the law that the Western world inherited and has built upon, is the Holy Bible and the law of Christ given two thousand years ago. That law involves such things as mercy, forgiveness, innocence until proven guilty and the guilty mind (mens rea) among other things.

An underlying principle of historic English law is that certain rights are given to humanity by our creator God. Those principles must be protected and upheld, in honour of God who gave them.

We see this principle of the rights of the people defined and protected in such historic documents as Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights.

Consider the promise by the Kings and Queens of England that “we will deny to no may, nor delay to them their justice and their rights”.

Law For the People

Considering the promise to deliver justice and right we can see that it is law FOR the people. It is a promise to protect the people and their God-given rights and freedoms.

However, there is a competing concept of law.

Another concept of law is that when people form a society that society becomes the force to which they must submit and also becomes the provider of their rights and freedoms.

This state centric concept discounts the inherent rights and freedoms of the people, in pursuit of what is best for the society, or the ‘greater good’. If one person has their rights wrongfully stripped from them that is not of great concern if it serves some greater purpose of the society.

And here we have the principal tension in today’s laws. We have laws for the people, and we have laws for the corporate entities.

Antichrist and All That
Historically the Christian church has understood that the world is heading for a one world government under the dictatorship of a character known as the Antichrist. This revealed in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, where the aged Apostle John saw visions of this apocalyptic future.

If the predictions are to come to pass then the whole world will end up in slavery to a global dictator. For that to happen law must evolve from law for the people to law for the corporation. Laws that protect people’s rights must be replaced by laws that take those rights away, ostensibly for the greater good.

The Antichrist mindset was in existence in the days of the early church, two thousand years ago. So it is no surprise that such a mindset is active in our world today.

And so we have people today who are seriously and passionately committed to laws that serve corporate agendas and that deny people their God-given rights and freedoms.

And thus we have conflict of laws in much of the world today, where laws that protect people are being overturned or restricted by laws that empower corporations and governments to take our freedoms from us.

Overturning Rule of Law

Since the true foundation of law is that we have inherent God-given rights and freedoms, those who wish to overturn those rights and freedoms must cheat the system at some point or other.

If we know what to look for we will see the evidence of laws that violate foundational principles and overturn historic principles and protections.

I will show you later how the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic) and similar laws in other states of Australia and beyond violate some pretty foundational principles. Those violations are not hidden, but that has not stopped our politicians and lawmakers from creating these suspect laws, nor has it stopped the courts and governments from enforcing them.

But first we need a little more foundational understanding.

Making Law

Laws have to be made by someone. We call the people who make the law ‘lawmakers’ or ‘legislators’.

When society needs to find a way to use the roads safely a law is needed about which side of the road vehicles should travel on. Legislators are meant to consider the options and debate the possibilities until they have come up with the most effective law to govern use of the roads.

When it is discovered that people are smuggling unwanted goods into the land the lawmakers must work out the best laws to stop that action and punish those who break the law.

In Australia we have certain protections in the making of laws. Elected representatives must consider and debate proposed laws. Once they have voted in favour of a set of laws, usually embodied in an Act of Parliament, that Act must pass on to our Upper House, or Senate, where the law is reviewed.

If the laws are not accepted in their original form they will be sent back to the House of Representatives where they will either be disbanded or reworked and resubmitted for approval.

Only once laws have been approved by both houses of parliament can the law be made a law. But even then it must be signed off by the Queen’s representative, and it should also be reviewed by the courts to make sure it is not in conflict with existing laws.

So it is not an easy matter to get a new law made and have it imposed on the population. And that’s a good thing that laws must be rigorously debated and filtered before they are allowed to be enacted.

Enforcing Laws

Good society involves three branches of government: the legislative (law making); administrative (general operation of society); and judicial (law enforcement).

The Australian Constitution was set up on the principle of ‘separation of powers’. That principle is that the three branches of government are to be kept separate.

If they are not separated then people’s rights can be violated.

Take for example the December 2012 decision by Melton Council in Victoria that it did not like people interrupting the council meeting. The Councillors met and made up a new law that anyone who failed to leave the chamber when directed by the Mayor would be subject to an immediate on-the-sot fine of $500.

In that case there was no separation of powers. Firstly the law was made capriciously by the self-interested group of councillors. There was no ‘check and balance’ process to make sure the law was a good one and did not violate such foundational principles as the right of free speech. The Councillors significantly escalated the penalty to frighten people into submission. Then those who made the law were able to enforce it themselves.

This is a blatant violation of the Australian Constitution and the principle of ‘separation of powers’. It shows how easy it is for a corporation or government agency to become a belligerent dictator if the principles of law are not maintained.

It is also a good reason why Australians should not elevate local councils into our Constitution, as they are not subject to the rigorous law making limitations imposed by the Constitution.

Judicial Process

Through the centuries the courts have become evil in various ways. Thankfully a set of principles has been distilled over time to define correct judicial process.

A person making a claim must have a just cause. They must have the sworn testimony of an injured party, not hearsay, groundless claims. The accused must be allowed to face his accuser and to challenge the claims made.

A judge must provide a fair trial; including ensuring that one party is not overpowered by the legal representatives he is up against. Those who represent themselves must be given special protection from their own ignorance and inexperience.

If there is contention in a matter then the court cannot give summary judgment. Each matter must be heard. The jurisdiction of the court must be established and may be challenged at any time during a proceeding. A judge who has vested interest in a case or who is biased must stand down.

If the principles of judicial process are not upheld then the whole case can be thrown out.

Foundational Reference Point

Because societies tend to drift over time, shifting their values without even realising it, the safest societies are those that have an external reference point and a firm foundation.

In Australian Law we have the Australian Constitution by which all other laws must be evaluated. If any law offends the Constitution then that law is of no effect.

Further to this the Holy Bible is regarded as the foundation of Australian law, both by our historic lawmakers, but also by our Queen swearing allegiance to the Bible in her Coronation.

These foundations have not been removed, despite public sentiment having drifted somewhat over the past century.

So we can measure the modern laws that might be attacking our God-given rights and freedoms by referring to the Australian Constitution and to the Holy Bible.

Making Laws that Ain’t Laws

State lawmakers have tried to overturn our law, taking away our rights and freedoms and moving away from our foundations, by making laws that are not laws.

Acts of Parliament are increasingly being made without regard to the foundational law in Australia. It is as if those driving this process are flagrantly challenging our Constitutional protections and making people fight for the very rights and freedoms that have been guaranteed to them.

When Parliaments create an Act they declare that they have made a new ‘law’. They then backup that law with police enforcement, courts making judgements based on that ‘law’, sheriffs taking possession of people’s goods and so on.

By this evil use of the instruments of society laws are being forced upon people even though those laws are not lawful when measured against the Australian Constitution.

It is imposition of new laws, taking our freedoms, by force and intimidation.

Infringements Act 2006 (Vic)

Let me use the Victorian Infringements Act of 2006 as an example of modern law that overturns the principles of law, Australian Constitution and the rights and freedoms of the people.

The Australian Constitution upholds ‘separation of powers’ and rigorous lawmaking process. That means that those who make the laws must do so with checks and balances and they cannot enforce their own laws.

The Infringements Act licences certain private corporations with the power to make laws without any checks and balances. And it empowers them to make a law one day and send out their own employees to enforce the law the very next day.

The new laws don’t have to be signed off on behalf of the Queen. They don’t have to be scrutinised by the courts. The Corporations, such as local councils made up of ordinary men and women, are given power to do what highly trained, legal minds cannot do. This is an amazing allocation of power, and it completely violates the separation of powers.

No Judicial Process

What is more each company that is allowed to issue infringements, based on by-laws they make up themselves, is permitted to employ people who are given incredible judicial power.

The company man, be he or she a parking attendant, council by-laws officer, train ticket inspector, or whatever, is given the role of finding an offender, accusing the offender, determining that the offender is guilty without even hearing from the alleged offender or hearing the case, determining the penalty and then creating a legal document that immediately makes the accused a guilty party obligated to pay the fine.

That makes them accuser, judge, jury and executioner!

This collection of actions contains several violations of judicial process. The Australian Constitution not only requires the separation of powers but requires that correct judicial process be followed.

Judges are required to guarantee fairness and must prove jurisdiction. There must be just cause, based on the sworn testimony of an injured party.

Infringements are issued in abundance every day without evidence of an injured party, without sworn testimony from anyone, without fairness, without hearing, and without conviction in a court of competent jurisdiction.

Laws Ain’t Laws

Despite the failings of the Infringements Act the courts are keen to uphold infringements once they have been issued. The accused is considered guilty as charged.

Yet, as I have shown, the Infringements Act is offensive to the Australian Constitution. It is not valid law. It is a state statute designed to overturn and overthrow the rights of the public and the protections built into the Constitution.

So the law landscape is muddy. It is muddied by laws that are not valid laws, yet which are upheld vigorously by the courts, the police, the sheriffs and the legal system.

Those who try to challenge the Infringements system have an uphill battle on their hands.

This can only be because there are people who want to defeat our God-given rights and freedoms and to make us subject to laws made by companies. That way we can be stripped of our rights and made slaves to all manner of entities who have been given special rights to enslave us.

It isn’t a pretty picture, but it is a picture we can understand and maybe change.

We actually do have God-given rights and freedoms. Those who are attacking our rights must do so by violating the foundations of our law. Surely there are those who can and will do something to bring redress to this evil ?????

What about you ?

Justice For Dummies 2 Perfection

We saw in the first lesson on Justice for Dummies that justice has to do with finding what is right (or “just), not what is fair or what seems best at the time.

To help you better understand justice and what you should expect from an effective justice system, this lesson explores a foundational anchor for justice, being “perfection”.

True justice is measured against an unchanging benchmark, which is perfection.

In the Beginning God…

The first statement of law in our world is found in the first sentence of a holy book written by an eighty year old prophet who had met face to face with God.  His five books, known as the Pentateuch (Five Volumes) and as the Torah (Teaching/Law), present the basis of all English Law.  After meeting with God on Mount Sinai in Arabia almost three thousand five hundred years ago, Moses wrote the law of God in five books which form the basis of Jewish scriptures and which are the first five books of the Old Testament section of the Holy Bible which Christians rely on.

So Moses’ first sentence is the foundational truth upon which Jewish religion and Christianity stand.  The Moslem world reveres Moses (whom they call Musa) and venerates the Bible while also challenging its accuracy when the Koran differs from it.  But the Moslem world has no challenge to Moses’ first sentence.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1

Perfection

The Holy Bible repeatedly describes the character of God as perfect.  Terms used to convey this truth include holy, holiness, righteousness, perfect, upright and just.

“For I am the LORD that brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: you will therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45

“Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You will be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.” Leviticus 19:2

“Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

“Judge me, O LORD my God, according to your righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.” Psalm 35:24

Your righteousness also, O God, is very high, who has done great things: O God, who is like you!” Psalm 71:19

“God reigns over the heathen: God sits on the throne of his holiness.” Psalm 47:8

Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.” Psalm 25:8

Defining Perfection

Perfection is a moral description of personal character.  I like the way Pastor Jack Hayford, of Church on the Way, California explained it to me back in the early 1970’s.  He said that God is “perfect” and “holy” because there is no imbalance in Him.

Pastor Jack pointed out that if an arrow or frisbee, rocket or other projectile was out of balance in the slightest degree then it would veer off course.  Only a “perfect” arrow could fly for thousands or millions of miles and not creep a degree to the left of right.

The more imperfect an arrow, frisbee or projectile is the more quickly it flies off course and crashes into something.  A wobbly arrow will not hit the mark.

So, imagine God’s perfection that He can start on a course of action and stick with it, despite all that might distract Him, for millennia after millennia.

Imperfect Man

Contrast the perfect holiness of God with how people behave.  How often do people get distracted, drop their New Year resolutions, break their vows, or get drawn away by their laziness, lust, ego, inquisitiveness or the like?

Man is challenged to rise in character above the foibles of “self” focus, to live by higher and holier standards.  God is the ultimate example of the perfection we are called to, because God is absolutely perfect and will never veer off course.

Man can be intimidated, dissuaded, distracted, overwhelmed, burned out or defeated, but God is perfect.  You can’t intimidate God, discourage Him, distract Him, overwhelm Him or defeat Him.  And God calls all men and women to be holy, just as He is holy.

No Turning

To amplify Pastor Jack Hayford’s description of holiness as the kind of perfection that does not take something off course, consider these other Bible verses that describe God.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17

“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6

And the ultimate indictment or charge against man is that everyone has gone off course, missed the mark and not reached the standard of God’s glory.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

Perfect Justice

To bring this discussion back to “justice” let me point out that justice is measured by God.  Justice can be perfect when it comes from a perfect being.

Justice is not fairness, or the best compromise under the circumstances.  True justice is anchored in the character of God, Himself.  True Justice is based on perfection of motive, perfection of character and perfection of judgement that does not change over time or from one case to another.

Human justice systems are a poor reflection of God’s justice and judgement.  But their inability to be as high and holy as God is, does not excuse them from being unjust, abusive, deceptive, prejudicial, or any such thing.

Injustice

When a judge is biased, or has been paid a bribe, or uses different standards under different circumstances there is injustice.

God rebuked the Israelites for having a bag full of different weights.  If they were selling to one customer they might use a lighter weight on the scale than when selling to another customer.  The customer would assume they had the correct weight, but the actual metal weight put on the scale was unjust.

“You are not to have in your house diverse measures, a great and a small.” Deuteronomy 25:14

“Diverse weights, and diverse measures, both of them are equally an abomination to the LORD.” Proverbs 20:10

A Heart Matter

True holiness is seen in our actions but it starts in our heart.  So to be truly just and holy we must have pure motives.  When we have ulterior motives we are not perfect and holy and our judgement will be distorted by that.

Just this morning a friend brought to me the transcript of a court case in which a judge clearly stated that he was glad he had past a sentence against people who drive in a particular fashion because he personally can’t stand such drivers.

The judge betrayed clear personal bias, and that affected his judgement.  The matter was not as the judge assumed it, but the judge was blinded by his own “unjust” prejudices.

God is pure in His heart.  God has no impure motives.  Men who engage in delivering justice must maintain the highest standards of holiness internally.  If they don’t, they will err in judgment because they will give in to the imperfect attitudes in their heart.

These impure attitudes are based on “self”.  Our preferences, prejudices, likes and dislikes are “ours”!  They spring from “self”.  When we are completely impartial we are not given to personal bias.

This is what is supposed to be symbolised by the image of justice as a blindfolded person holding scales.  They are meant to be impartial toward the people being judged, rather than allowing personal bias to interfere with the judgment.

Holy Judgement

Let me summarise by reminding you that the ultimate foundation of justice is perfection.  It is not man’s perfection, but God’s perfection that undergirds all justice.

God is holy and just.  God demands that mankind be holy and just.

Man’s justice must be based on God’s holiness, or it will not be justice at all.

Ultra Vires

Have you ever heard of a judge, policeman or official overstepping their authority? It’s common enough and it’s the focus of this discussion.

Ultra Vires means “outside the law” and it has to do with the Rule of Law. It also relates to the abuse of official power. I trust that none of you ever have to deal with such matters, but this discussion is for those who want to think about the matter or who may have to deal with it in some way.

Scot Free

I chatted with an elderly man today who I met while on my daily exercise walk. He is of Albanian extraction but was born and raised in Kosovo, back when it was part of Yugoslavia. Since I have been to both Kosovo and Albania we had much to chat about.

He related the various troubles the nation of Yugoslavia endured due to ethnic rivalries. One case prompted me to write this post. He told of a man who convinced a friend to assist him commit a burglary. Both men were caught and brought before the judge. The judge was of the same ethnicity as the first man and he instructed that man to go through a particular door. That door led the man to complete freedom. He was let off “scot-free”. The other man, however, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

scales

Now, that’s an example of the abuse of office. The judge had acted “ultra vires”, outside his official authority. Either both men were guilty or both men were innocent. Favouring his own kind was an abuse of official power.

Rule of Law

Back in 2004, when I was in Cape Town waiting to travel to Zimbabwe I was shocked to see a newspaper headline declaring complete collapse of the Rule of Law in Zimbabwe. I read the article with keen eyes, concerned about whether I should cancel my travels there. I had visions of rioting and looting in the streets as we saw in the LA race riots.

What had occurred was that Prime Minister Robert Mugabe rejected a decision of the High Court in Zimbabwe. The dramatic headline was targeted at Robert Mugabe, not the ordinary man on the street. When we arrived in Harare we found it perfectly safe and a great place to minister to people.

In the Zimbabwe situation the PM resisted the lawful finding of the courts. He wanted to operate “ultra vires”, outside judicial restraint.

Model Traffic Rules

Kenneth Wayne tells of his experience as a young officer in the late 1970’s watching a political lobbyist advise politicians about the Model Traffic Rules which the  lobbyist wanted them to implement. When it was pointed out that the rules violated the American Constitution the lobbyist responded by pointing out that most people will never realise that the rules are unlawful and until someone successfully overturns the rules the government will rake in much more money.

That legislation, which did come into effect some time later, was “ultra vires”. It was outside of the law. The politicians who put it in place ignored the law, knowing that the public would be easily duped and would be powerless to stop them.

Going Ultra Vires

Operating outside the law is an appealing option to those in power, those who wish to get their way and those who have personal agendas to push. Whether it is letting someone off lightly or duping others into giving in to your demands, the act of going ultra vires is common enough.

Such terms as nepotism and discrimination reflect the human tendency to use positions of power and influence to cater to their own agendas. In most such cases the person has had to violate the rules and regulations, thus they have gone ultra vires.

Here Lies the Law

In some places the rule of law has been buried long ago. People do not get justice and those who can bribe and push their way forward get all the advantages.

In other places the law appears to be alive and well, but the laws have been adapted and morphed into laws that are outside the lawful constraints put on the Governments or officials.

The surest proof that the true rule of law is alive and well is that everyone is effectively held accountable for their handling of the law. Where people resist calls to account for themselves, then you can be certain they are operating ultra vires and don’t want to be stopped from doing so.

“Alas poor law, I knew him well…”

People Power in the Court

In part 2 of this series (The Court as a Bully) we saw that the Court is effectively a machine waiting to be activated to operate on some matter or other which an individual brings to the Court. The court is thus powerless to do its own thing and waits, like a servant, to come to life when asked by someone to deal with a case.

Most of us have been raised to see the court as a very powerful mechanism to be feared. So it is interesting to reflect on the high level of people power which is involved in legal action. That’s the point of this post.

People Activate The Court

people

As mentioned above, it is people who activate the court. The court does not activate itself. The court is dormant and uninvolved in the affairs or ordinary people. The court can be ignored by the vast majority of us throughout our lives. The Court has no right to interfere with the normal life of ordinary men and women until and unless a case involving those individuals is brought before the Court.

A Court needs “standing” in order to act on a matter. For the court to have “standing” to take up a matter one party must make an accusation against another. The accusation must be sworn under oath otherwise it lacks sufficient validity to engage the court.

So the first point about People Power in the Court is that it is People who Activate the Court. It takes People Power to turn the key to get the legal wheels turning.

Agreement Needed

Even when one person has activated the court by filing a writ, complaint or claim with the court the court is not able to do as it pleases in taking the case forward. More people power is needed.

In most cases the court must have the agreement of both parties in order to proceed. If one party refuses to allow the court to meddle with their affairs then the court is severely limited. Mind you, this is not a well known fact and the courts probably don’t like me letting the cat out of the bag.

In most cases a court is an extension of a problem-solving process between two parties. One party may call upon the court to arbitrate and determine the outcome of a dispute between the two parties. This is usually done when that person is frustrated by how slow the resolution process is going, or the stand taken by the other party.

When the court takes up the complaint of one party against another, to become the arbiter in the dispute, both parties must agree to accept the court’s ruling. If one of the parties refuses to authorise the court’s action then it is disempowered. The court cannot lawfully proceed.

When I went to the Victorian Magistrates Court to see how things were done I noted that there are mediation processes for some cases. However mediation will not be engaged unless both parties agree to it. This need for agreement is representative of the reality across many court proceedings. The court only has as much authority as people give it.

Bluff and Bluster

Most people have been trained to see themselves as subject to the demands of the court and government officials, and therefore unable to resist the impositions, judgements and demands made by a court or government official.

Because “agreement” to the authority of the court is essential for the court to exercise authority over individuals a series of apparently authoritative processes has been put in place to bluff and intimidate people into accepting the role of the court in their affairs. Such things as a summons, court order, judgement, penalty and fine carry the impression of authority. Remember that the court can become nothing more than a “rent a bully” in the hands of some people.

A businessman I once knew shocked me by being completely unimpressed with letters from lawyers and courts. He dealt with them the way it suited him, despite the threats or actions mounted against him. I had so little contact with courts that I was completely convinced that legal action by lawyers and courts was a desperately serious business full of power to intimidate. This man however had been in many legal cases and was completely undaunted, unafraid and unimpressed.

Courtroom Architecture

courtroom

Courtroom architecture and processes give people the impression that individuals have no real “standing” and that the court has all the authority. This really stood out to me when I viewed the Victorian Magistrates Court Virtual Courtroom on their website.

The images and video clips show the magistrate sitting high and above all, presiding over the whole realm of the court. The witness box appears like a small prison cell and it is seen as a tough place to be. The lawyers have the right to stand before the magistrate, but the real people, with the real issue to be resolved, are slumped in chairs in the background, as powerless ones, watching other people deliberate about their lives.

Overturning the Illusion

Yet in truth it is the individual who carries all the power and authority. The court cannot act at all without being given authority to do so by an individual who raises a case. The individual gives the court standing, not the other way around. If the individual who activated the court withdraws their charges the court suddenly grinds to a halt. It can only act on the authority of an individual. The true authority is the people, not the court.

The party being attacked by court process must give permission to the court in order for the court to have any authority over them. Each lawyer must be engaged by the individual in order to have permission to represent that individual. The sworn testimony by an individual in the witness box is the most important resource available to the court. Everything that is not attested to by sworn testimony or witnessed signature is hearsay and of no consequence.

So the individual authorises the court, authorises the lawyer and provides the only authoritative resource the court can address. Thus it is absurd that the court so design itself and its processes and paperwork to give any other impression.

Being In Control

The reason the courts give the false impression that the individual is powerless and of no consequence is so the court can assert more power and authority than it rightfully has. Individuals are led to give authority to the court, so the court can operate at all and even operate against them. If individuals assign their personal authority to the court, by acquiescence, then the court can operate with power over those individuals. And we all know that power is addictive and corrupts those who hold it.

The individuals are in control. They provide the energy for the court to operate. They are not victims of the court but its masters. That is not to say that individuals dictate the law or the outcome of the court, but they are much more significant players in all legal action than they will ever be told they are by lawyers or the courts.

Acquiescence

Since it is individuals who hold much of the authority in our society and societal processes, such as government and courts, there seems to be much misinformation to convince individuals that they don’t have that authority and to get them to give in, or acquiesce.

If a person gives up their personal authority by being bluffed or deceived, they lose that authority and can be ruled easily.

Governments and courts like it when people submit to whatever imposition they impose. It makes it easy to govern and to get the results you want when people simply go along with it. Sadly many people’s rightful entitlements have been abused by government and court actions.

If you are unfortunate enough to have to confront the court then maybe you should give some thought to who really holds authority in the system and what part you should play in navigating through the processes that may be forced upon you.

The Court as a Bully

This is part 2 in a series of articles looking at the subject of going to Court. These thoughts are initial ramblings as I toss over issues relevant to the legal system. My thinking will obviously mature in time, but for now follow me as I graze through the matters of facing the Courts.

Machine For Hire

Courts are a mechanism, much like a machine. They are a machine available to all who have the key to activate it on their behalf.

judge

Courts cannot go off and make a ruling about someone at their whim. The court is not an independent agent, able to pick up any case it so chooses. The court is locked into a building and must wait until someone comes along with a case they wish the court to address. In that sense the court is quite powerless, waiting like a handmaid for someone to give it orders so it can spring into life and do what it is designed to do.

Someone must make a charge or cause a court action to be initiated for the court to proceed with any deliberations.

Constraints on the Courts

A court cannot send a notice that it decided, arbitrarily, to create a charge or penalty against someone. Officials of the court can’t sit around watching television and then decide they will create a charge against someone they saw being interviewed, or in a news story. There must be “just cause”.

The Biblical requirement of “an eye for an eye” sets up the principle of Just Cause. Someone must have suffered some damage in order for the court to have just cause to press for some compensation or other legal response. Even so, the just cause does not come from the court, but from an aggrieved party who engages the court to act on their behalf in the matter.

Conflict Resolution

If people are of good will they will discuss and resolve their problems. If one party is not of good will the courts will be asked to arbitrate, because the parties have not been able to come to a happy resolution.

However, if the good will party was truly good will, it would allow itself to be aggrieved, suffer loss, as the Apostle Paul advises, and let the matter go, despite the personal impost.

“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because you go to law one with another. Why do you not rather take wrong? Why do you not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” 1Corinthians 6:7

Advice of Christ

Rather than demand our rights we are instructed by Christ to go the extra mile, giving more than was demanded.

“You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say to you, Resist not evil: but whoever hits you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue you at law and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go a mile, go with him two. Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow from you do not turn away.” Mark 5:28-42

Rent a Bully

For those who are locked into the win-lose context in their fight with others, the courts become a form of “rent a bully”. If someone engages the court as their bully they have already revealed that they are not of good will as a follower of Christ.

When people feel aggrieved and are unable to resolve their sense of loss and the feelings that spring from that, they can see the legal system as a means of demanding their way, getting the justice they believe they are entitled to and even of hurting the other person by apply the strength of the court against them.

Courts were not created to be an ugly element on the social landscape, but sadly, due to the hard hearted attitude of many or personal desire to gain advantage over others the courts have often been nothing more than a bully for hire in the minds of some.

Noble Courts

God’s design for justice and legal process is noble and holy. It is worth thinking about how to ensure that what the courts do and how they do it is protected from processes that demean the court and turn it into a weapon, rather than a blessing in our societies.

But we are just scratching the surface and prompting some ideas into the open. Let’s see where this leads us in time.