Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A proposed solution

There are many proposed ideas on ways to repair the government. The problem with all of these ideas is that none of them have a prayer of passing.

As more and more stories about police abuse appear in the media, as police get ever more abusive, the constant theme going through each of these stories is the severity of the punishment the offending police receive: they really aren't punished. Many of them are suspended with pay. Most of the rest are suspended without pay. A few are actually fired. How many spend time in jail?

The same goes for misbehaving prosecutors, the other half of the offensive power of government, as the police lack the power to convict (in theory, as when pain compliance via taser is administered it is clearly conviction and punishment). When Michael Nifong so severely raped the North Carolina Justice System that it was inescapable that he be disciplined, he spent one whole day in jail.

Obviously there is a major disconnect with the officials of the government policing itself. The police and the prosecutors not only fail to act against offenders within their own ranks and each others ranks, they also fail to act against offenders in other departments of the government.

In England and Australia there is a law that, while seldom used, would be useful to remedy the situation in the United States. The people have the authority to file criminal charges. Given how much more lawsuit happy the people of the United States are, this could easily get out of hand so as an introductory step the people of the United States would better be given the authority to fire criminal charges against government officials.

There would have to be a few conditions on this os as to keep this from getting out of hand. First, the person filing the charge must pay for the initial filing - a successful conviction will warrant reimbursement from the government. Second, prosecutors are not able to take over the prosecution without agreement from the filing party. This will prevent the prosecutor from taking over simply to move that the charges be dropped with prejudice. Third, government attorneys other than those already designated as public defenders may not act as the defense for accused government agents, and only if the government agent passes the means test to qualify for free public defense - which they will not.

No government attorney should be allowed to defend the accused. That would be a conflict of interest.

Given that when a prosecutor accuses a person, if the person successfully defends himself the government does not reimburse the defense, so when a person accuses a government agent the agent should expect no reimbursement from either the government or the filing party. This is quite unlike the loser-pays system of civil suits, and much more like the government's idea of justice ... only applied to the government.

Too bad it has no chance of passing.


Jehan said...

Interesting plan.
Allowing civilians to file charges has potential to clean things up, unless the cost of filing is too high for anyone except the most corrupt to afford.
I like it, except-
"No government attorney should be allowed to defend the accused."
I disagree with that, some people NEED to have a court appointed attorney, because they can not afford one themselves. Don't forget Miranda v Arizona!

Ayn R. Key said...

True. I should modify that. No government attorney other than a Public Defender (after the needs test has been passed) shall be allowed to defend the accused.