[FoRK] Challenge for Zee and Stephen

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Mon Jun 30 10:55:16 PDT 2008

On Jun 30, 2008, at 11:51 AM, Zee Roe wrote:

>> (2) Do you think we have too many litigators?  Not enough?  Just  
>> right?
> There should be enough litigators for the number of cases that are out
> there.  This is a symptom and not a problem -- I don't seem to have  
> the
> inherent dislike of them that you do.

Despite what you might conclude by my comments, I actually don't have  
the kind of deep-seated dislike of lawyers that many folks do.  In  
fact, some of my best friends are lawyers... ;-)   including my cousin  
and one of my best friends in the world, whose present occupation is  
--- you guessed it --- litigator.

What I despise is the system that encourages this parasitism, and  
makes it more economically feasible for the high-profile target  
defendant to regularly settle rather than go to trial.  And what's  
worst about that is actually, IMHO, the strain it puts on the system  
as a whole.  Almost every jury summons I've ever received was for a  
civil suit (one exception) --- and in every case in hindsight I can  
say that suit shouldn't have been tried, period.  And those were among  
the 3% of suits that go to trial overall --- for every one of those,  
there are substantially more cases that settle just because it was  
more economically viable for the defendant to do so, even if they were  
not in the wrong.

>> (4) Assuming that in fact in our current system plaintiffs win more
>> than is statistically likely, is that a problem?
> Like representative democracy, it may suck but it's the best suck  
> compared
> to all the other sucks. :)

Well, I disagree both with the former and the latter.  It's a  
convenient chestnut, but our present system --- constitutionally- 
constituted republic, rather than unfettered democracy --- seems to me  
both in theory and practice superior to e.g. pure populist democracy.

And I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that the court system  
follows the same analysis.  It's an anachronism in many ways;  and we  
have few if any test cases of alternatives from which to draw any  

>> (5) Do you think our courts function efficiently today?  Why or why  
>> not?
> This is a bit of a loaded question, and I think 'efficiency' needs  
> to be
> defined better as a metric.  You surely don't mean throughput;

Throughput is among the drivers of overall economic efficiency that  
I'm interested in....

Let me put it another way:  do you think that the general quality of  
"justice" delivered under the current system is justified by the costs  
in time, effort, attention, brainpower, money, organizational  
overhead, and so on?

> To avoid tying you up in semantics for the next decade, I will just  
> say
> yes, I think our courts function fairly efficiently for what they are
> trying to do.  That's not to say there's no room for improvement...
>> (6) What changes would you support, specifically, to our current
>> system of civil litigation?
> That's the $1m ($4m if you include lawyer's fees) question, isn't  
> it? :)
> For sure I'd like to see *far* stiffer penalties for chronic abusers  
> than
> exist now.  I'm not fundamentally opposed to the concept of having
> plaintiffs (and/or their lawyers) put up or shut up, but I don't think
> it'd work out in practice the way you see it.

Ok, you are entitled to your own opinion, even if as it is in this  
case you're wrong. ;-)

But the question of how to fix it, assuming it's broken, is still out  


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