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Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Trouble in the Legal Industry

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 18, 2014

The Boston Globe writer Jeff Jacoby has published some telling statistics concerning the legal industry. According to Jacoby, 35 years ago when then Chief Justice Warren Burger said that America was turning into “a society overrun by hordes of lawyers, hungry as locusts“, there were 450,000 attorneys in the United States with law schools graduating 34,000 per year. By 2011 these numbers increased to over 1.2 million lawyers with graduation rates at approximately 44,000 per year. Thus, the population of lawyers tripled during this time period when the overall population of the United States grew by only 40%.

lady-justiceHowever, significant changes are occurring in the field of law. According to Jacoby, in 2011 only 50% of graduating lawyers obtain jobs with law firms with only 65% finding positions requiring passage of a bar exam. Given these upside-down results and the efficiencies offered by the Internet and technology, the number of law school students has dropped significantly in more recent years. Even the law industry is not spared invisible hand of the market.

While market forces are in the process of rebalancing supply demand for lawyers, there are larger issues involved. According to Jacoby, the United States has the largest number of lawyers of any country and even a greater number as a percentage of the population. Why has this occurred? Has the increased number of lawyers improved overall society? Answers to these important questions can go a long way to explaining the decline of the United States in recent decades.

It is not coincidental that the explosion in the population of lawyers has occurred at the same time as the skyrocketing growth of big government, its bureaucrats, and regulations. An inordinate number of our politicians come from the legal community. It is not surprising therefore that they create laws requiring intervention of the legal industry to interpret and litigate.

In addition, litigation often benefits the legal industry more than litigants. This result is not surprising given not only the increase in the number of lawyers requiring income, but the fact that responsibility for overseeing litigation is given to judges who come from the legal industry.

Society often rejects the reliability of self-regulation due to inherent conflicts. When it comes in the medical community, the legal industry is often given the task of controlling malpractice. Police are typically overseen by civilian boards. The airline industry has the FAA. Companies that pollute have the DEP. The examples are nearly endless. It is therefore curious that two significant parts of American society are allowed to self-regulate, politicians and the legal industry. It is more curious than Americans accept this obvious inequity.


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Colorado Shooting Massacre was Avoidable

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 31, 2012

On July 20, 2012 James Eagan Holmes entered a midnight screening of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises”.  Heavily armed, he opened fire resulting in the deaths of 12 and wounding 58.  According to the New York Times, this murder involved the greatest criminal loss of life in the Country’s history.

After the initial shock, publicity surrounding the Colorado massacre has been muted. However, this past weekend the New York Times published a lengthy article with background and context to the tragedy, Before Gunfire, Hints of ‘Bad News’According to the Times there were signs that should have been warning signals about the potential for violence emanating from Holmes.  The signs included:

  • In a text message to a fellow student two weeks before the massacre, Holmes asked about his self-diagnosed problem, “dysphoric mania.”  That student responded that it was a psychiatric condition relating to bipolar, but could be managed with treatment.  Holmes told that student that she should stay away from him “because I have bad news.”
  • The Times also reported that in the months before the massacre, Holmes was struggling with severe mental illness.
  • Some classmates were informed by Holmes that he experimented with LSD and other drugs.  The combination of mental illness and substance abuse a known dangerous mix.
  • Holmes was reported to be an avid player of video games including violent ones such as Diablo III and World of Warcraft.
  • Holmes, a graduate student at the University of Colorado, was a loaner.  In addition, classmates saw significant changes in his behavior in the first part of 2012.  During this period court papers indicate that Holmes informed fellow students and he wanted to kill people.
  • Holmes was seeing a University psychiatrist Dr. Lynne Fenton who became concerned about his potential for violence.  Fenton alerted Colorado University’s threat assessment team about those concerns.  No further actions were taken.

Further information concerning Holmes and details relating to the tragedy are being hindered by authorities and the University of Colorado.  The court in which he is being prosecuted has imposed a blackout on information relating to the case.  The University has also refused to release any details about Holmes.  This feels like a circle wagons approach to the matter.

According to the New York Times article, Holmes planned the attack for months.  This included huge purchases of firearms, ammunition and body armor.  In addition, he set booby traps around his apartment.

The facts becoming available on the Colorado shooting are troubling.  They indicate a tragedy that may have been avoidable.  They suggest weaknesses in our psychiatric/legal systems and the possible connection between violent video games criminal acts.  These potential relationships and special-interests that could be hurt by further discussions on these issues have likely lead to less scrutiny on the tragedy by the mainstream media.  Even the Left’s often discussed subject of gun control has been muted when it comes to the Colorado tragedy.

The United States has a problem with a small minority of people acting out the most horrific crimes.  An open and honest discussion of the causes is needed.  This should include the subject of guns, the legal system, the psychiatric system, violent media, family issues and institutional responsibility.  Unfortunately, fringes on the Left and Right will try to remove their sacred cows from the discussions.

Posted in Healthcare, Law | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

40,000 New Laws on the Books; Happy New Year

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 3, 2012

NBC News reported that with the start of the New Year about 40,000 new state laws went into effect.  This come to an average of 800 per state for this year alone and add to the myriad of laws that preceded them.  While individuals may find some of the laws productive for society and their personal benefit, the sheer number tells a different tale.  This is a tale of ever-growing governmental intrusion in Americans’ lives and how special interests use the legislative branch of government to pursue self-serving agendas.  In the end, these realities offset much of the good offered Americans by even the most well-meaning of laws.

Posted in Justice, Law | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Overweight Man Sues Restaurant over Seat Size

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 12, 2011

Just when you think it couldn’t get any loonier, along comes a storey published yesterday on myfoxny.com that takes lunacy to new heights.  Martin Kessman, a 64 year old from Nanuet, NY, has sued hamburger chain White Castle over the size of their seats.  Kessman, who weighs 290 pounds, does not fit comfortably into their chairs.  In the suit filed in Manhattan federal court, Kessman claims that the uncomfortable seating violates the civil rights of fat people.  In addition, he claims that The Americans with Disabilities Act is applicable, stating: “I just want to sit down like a normal person.”

Kessman’s remarkable belief that private businesses owe him special accommodations because he chooses to eat too much is a natural extension of the nanny-state mentality Progressives have foisted on America.  It has replaced personal responsibility and with self-indulgence without individual consequences.  However, the consequences for are huge and cumulative.  In this case, a few lawyers will make some extra doe that will be paid for through higher-priced burgers by the mainstream public who purchase White Castle burgers and fit into standard size chairs.

It would seem that the last thing Kessman needs is more White Castle hamburgers.  It’s but a matter of time before he sues the producer of his bedroom mirror claiming: “I just want to look like a normal person.”

Posted in Law | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lessons from the U.K. Riots

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 16, 2011

After days of senseless violence by young people across England that included beating up the helpless, destroying property and looting, the UK has returned to some semblance of normalcy.  England is cleaning up after the mess.

Western countries are trying to come to grips with the cause of violence.  How could a civilized society break down so quickly?  Progressives have already given their worn-out excuses.  They blame budget cuts, young people’s despair over the economy and lack of social programs for youths.  This nonsense is proffered in part to deflect blame from their role in creating the violence; i.e. the Progressive programs that over the decades created a generation that has been coddled by government handouts that include subsidized college tuition and living expenses.  The excuses also deflect blame from parents who abdicated their parental responsibilities to pursue their own selfish needs.  Yes, children raised in broken families are less likely to be socially adjusted.

Joyce Lee Malcolm, professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law, wrote an op-ed for the August 16 edition of the Wall Street Journal that outlines some of the complicity and responsibility that Progressive philosophy has in creating the violence that plagued England.  Ms. Malcolm points to the following:

  • In the 1950’s England modified its laws requiring extraordinary circumstances for anyone under the age of 17 to be sent to prison.
  • Burglars are suing home owners in the UK if injured while breaking into house.  In a related outrage, police have told gardeners not to use wire mesh in their garden sheds windows as that might injure burglars.
  • UK law makes it difficult for homeowners to protect themselves against attackers.  Ms. Malcolm offers two examples:  1) “Tony Martin, an English farmer, was sentenced to life in prison for killing one burglar and wounding another with a shotgun during the seventh break-in at his rural home in 1999.  While his sentence was later reduced to five years, he was refused parole in 2003 because he was judged a danger to burglars.”  2) “In 2008, a robber armed with a knife attacked shopkeeper Tony Singh in West Lancashire.  During the struggle the intruder was fatally stabbed with his own knife.  Although the robber had a long record of violent assault, prosecutors were preparing to charge Mr. Singh with murder until public outrage stopped them.”  How outrageous!
  • First-time offenders who confess to crimes such as assault and arson are let off with only a warning.  70% of apprehended burglars in 2009 avoided any prison time.
  • A 1953, a new British law incredibly called the “Prevention of Crime Act“, made any item carried for possible protection an “offensive weapon” and illegal.
  • Possession of handguns was banned in the UK for private citizens in 1997.  Since the ban; crimes involving handguns increased by 40% in 2001 and doubled in the past 10 years.

The recent riots placed innocent Englishman/women at the mercy of the animals that roamed the streets.  Their protection was supposed to come from a police force that lost its ability to protect and had instead become a babysitting service for criminals.  The potential victims were forced to buy baseball bats for protection with bat sales of increasing 5,000% in recent weeks in England.  Should the Progressives continue to run England we can expect to see baseball bats on the list of “offensive weapons”.

There are quick lessens that can be learned from England’s recent trauma.  Coddling criminal behavior will only lead to more crimes as the deterrent effects are lost.  Removing guns and other protective weapons from innocent people does not reduce violent crimes.  In fact, the lack of availability of defensive weapons increases a criminal’s level of confidence that he or she will get away with criminal acts.  Most importantly, the Progressive views of crime, punishment and justice have been proven abject failures.  It’s time to replace such nonsense with a common sense approach to the legal system.  Let’s start by bringing back corporal punishment for young hooligans.  A bit tough love won’t hurt these thugs.

The video below shows America’s version of the English youth mobs taken freebies for a store last in Germantown, PA.  England is but a canary in the mine for Western countries.

Posted in Law, Progressives | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »