Thursday, May 03, 2007

Legal System = Broken

Today’s post is yet another that was inspired by something I read over at OzzyC’s awesome blog.

He writes about a Judge in Washington suing his dry-cleaner for 65 million dollars over a lost pair of pants. I won’t go over that story here, as you can obviously head on over to Ozzy’s blog and read his thoughts on it…which are pretty much exactly the same as mine.

What I want to know is this. When did the act of taking someone to court and suing them stop being about justice and righting a wrong? How did we get to the point we’re at today when suing someone has become a legitimate business model and a simple source of income?

It’s impossible to read the day’s news without stumbling upon a story like this. A guy trips over in the street and cuts his arm. He doesn’t need medical attention and his injuries aren’t severe enough to actually stop him from doing anything…but from his point of view, the city owes him a million dollars for having one paving stone a micron higher than another.

Or my personal favorite, the woman who successfully sued a department store because a kid ran into her and knocked her over. Her lawsuit was based on the fact that the kid should have been better supervised. This all makes sense apart from the fact that the kid who was running around and knocked her over was her own frigging son!

Then we come to the biggest offenders. People like the RIAA and MPAA who think that illegally downloading an mp3 that costs a dollar on iTunes justify a $3000 fine, which jumps up considerably if you try and fight them.

See what I mean? It’s become their business model. They sue people for ridiculous amounts of money, in order to fund more lawsuits where they sue people for ridiculous amounts of money.

I mean, where did common sense go? How do they arrive at these figures?

If I’m crossing the street and a drunk driver runs a red light and knocks me down, resulting in me becoming paralysed…sure, that driver should now be liable for all my medical bills and lost earnings due to me being unable to work because of injuries they inflicted.

If a dry cleaner loses a pair of my pants, they owe me the cost of a new pair of pants and maybe the cost of a complete suit if they where part of a set.

I think that the biggest problem we have today is that justice is no longer blind, and she likes to accept bribes.

You see, today, actually being right means pretty much nothing in a court of law. What matters is how much money you have in your pocket and how many lawyers you can afford.

What should be a case of who is right and who can prove it has become a tangled mess of technicalities, procedure and down right dirty tactics.

For example, one of Microsoft’s favorites was to steal someone else’s software, change it around a little and slap their name on it. If the actual creators of this software complained, Microsoft would go to court and simply keep the case going long enough until their opponent simply couldn’t afford to continue. Just like the RIAA, if they accuse me of illegal file sharing, even if I’m completely in the right, what chance do I have going up against the lawyers of every major record label in the country?

This is the same reason that people like Jack Thompson feels that while it’s their right to throw insults around, ridicule people in a public forum and launch attack after baseless attack on things people hold dear…the second someone writes something un-complimentary about them, that it’s slander and out comes the lawsuit.

(For example, Jack Thompson has openly called gamers as a whole as well as particular individuals drug users, idiots, fools etc, but has launched lawsuits against pretty much every major gaming site that has disagreed with him… going so far as to call ‘Penny Arcade’ an ‘extortion factory’. For some reason he feels he can post a nasty, insulting post in an online forum…but when the forum reacts, their posts are slander and harassment.)

In the end, it comes down to just a few simple problems. Greedy people, greedy lawyers, ridiculous laws and the fact that ‘justice’ can be bought by the dollar.

Sure, this Judge who’s suing his dry cleaner might be technically in the right when it comes to the letter of the law…but how can anyone with a straight face believe that the loss of a pair of pants is worth $62 million dollars.

Yep, an incredibly highly paid lawyer wants the equivalent of over two thousand times the average person’s yearly salary. Despite the fact he could buy himself a whole new suit and not even notice the money going from his account.

You could say it’s a matter of principle, which I’d agree with if he just wanted the pants replaced…but I think it’s hard for someone to claim that something like this is a matter of principles when he obviously has none.

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