WI no lawyers?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Admiral Brown, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. Admiral Brown Well-Known Member

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    How can you get a world as similar to our own as possible, but in which there are no lawyers. I mean, a world in which each person has to defend personally in Court if accused of a crime or if involved in a civil matter? Is a Pod in the Roman era absolutely neccesary, or would a much later Pod be enough? How would a modern world without lawyers look like? Would this world be completely unrecognizable?

    I started this threat after readings that tha Aztecs had Courts, but no lawyers. Apparently, many Ancient civilizations, including the Greeks, did quite well without them. But, on the other hand, all these where Ancient civilizations. Could a modern democratic do without lawyers.
     
  2. Nicksplace27 Member

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    As much as everyone hates lawyers, without them we'd be back in the middle ages and less fortunate people would always be punished while more fortunate will get off. It would be bad...
     
  3. The Sicilian Well-Known Member

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    In a most societies, someone that is familiar with the laws and can argue well would always be needed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2008
  4. Shimbo The Whisper of Death

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    What about some kind of PoD that merges detectives and the judiciary?

    Instead of the police getting a case together and presenting it to the court (via their lawyers) and the defendant trying to attack that case (through his lawyers), with the judge presiding and the jury deciding guilt/innocence, how about:

    The detective/judge investigates crime, interrogates everyone involved in each crime and builds his case based on what he discovers. He then presents his case to the jury, who make a decision on whether the case is strong enough and if so what the punishment should be.

    Not saying it would be a better system, just a possible system.
     
  5. Fenwick Uncrowned ruler of Hippies Donor

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    You need lawyers, or else you need really basic laws with a lot of authority granted to judges, or a jury. The law is hard, and the reason (to me) most people do not like lawyers is because they seem to rip them off for not working. When in truth when a lawyer is charging 10,000 to file two papers the guy most likely has been doing it for years and knows just what books to read to find case law. People do not see knowledge they see effort. Prelim's are ten minutes to an hour depending on the client and more often then not its reading ones rights, and more often then not trials do not get past even that.

    So without a lawyer in the system then i simply see regular people badly defending themselves against the state.
     
  6. The Sicilian Well-Known Member

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    That only covers trial lawyers. There are many different types of lawyers, you know.
     
  7. Thande A special man who knows these things Donor

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    They did have lawyers in the Middle Ages, you know. :rolleyes:
     
  8. Fenwick Uncrowned ruler of Hippies Donor

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    True and they all are expected to go to court if the need arises. Divorce, Criminal, Corporate, Enviromental, etc all can go for years playing backroom deals but are expected to go to trial if they have to.
     
  9. Admiral Brown Well-Known Member

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    Well, probably. In all conciebable systems (even in our own), some get favoured over others. The question is who gets favoured, and in what degree. Let's see:

    1) In a system like the Greek one, in which each individual was supposed to plead his own case, the ones who are more educated would be benefited. This is becouse the better educated would probably know the law better and would know to express themselves better and more convincingly than the least educated ones (on avrege, of course). As, usually, in most societies, the better educated are richer than the average person (even if they aren't necesarly THE RICHEST persons), this system favours could be accused of, inderectly, favouring the wealthy.

    2) In a system like the one in place during the Middle Ages, where disputes where solved by duels, the strongests tend to get benefited. If weapons are involved in the duels, those who can afford the best weapons will ussually win their case. And even if no weapons are involved, if a system like this is established in a society like the one that existed in the Middle Ages, the rich might probably win more often, as they would be, on avrege, better trained, better fed and in better shape than the avrege peasant. Thus, this system favours, indirectly, the ones that are in the highest ranks in society.

    3) In a system where dispute are resolved by, let's say, dropping a coin into the air, no group gets benefited a priori. (Trial by ordeal, during the middle Ages, was a form of this). But, in this case, it's quite likely that the one who wins the case is the one who was wrong (as it is also the case with system number two). And if he isn't, it's just because by chance.

    4) In a system like our own, the ones who are "right" tend to get their right reparation, at least in a greater degree than in systems 2) and 3) (Not neccesarly than in system number one). But it is clear, at least according to me, that this systems favours the wealthy (those who can pay the better lawyers) EVEN MORE DIRECTLY than systems one, two and three.

    Of course, no matter which system is adopted, those in the highest ranks of society would bprobably try to use their influence to get certain advantages. But the degree in which this occurs would vary according to the system adopted.

    But, the question is, could a system like number one be apt for a modern society? I don't think so, as we tend to hiper-specialization, and it is unlikely that an avrege person, even a highly cultivated one, would know all areas of the law. He may defend himself reasonably well on a crimminal matter, but he would have trouble in pleading a case against the government over, let's say, certain external tariffs applied to his business.

    But maybe, if advocacy hadn't appeared in the Roman era, we might have two separate systems: in criminal and most civil (divorces, family problems, damage of property, etc) cases , each persons pleads his own case personaly. On more complexes issues, in which money or complexes regulations are involved, lawyers are required.
     
  10. Admiral Brown Well-Known Member

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    I agree. I don't dispute that. Lawyers may play an important role in helping individuals deal with a authoritarian meassures adopted by governments. Whearas it may seem unfair in a dispute between to individuals that the one who has paid the better lawyer wins, if it weren't for lawyers, governments(who have got much more resources than individuals) might adopt even more meassures alienating individual rights than the ones they do. It's no surprising than authoritarian states like Musharrafff's Pakistan or Videla's Argentina prosecuted lawyers.

    But it's still a fact that, even in dealing with meassures adopted by authoritarian governments, those in conditions to pay better lawyers are in advantage. If two people are charged with a crime based on evidence obtained in a way that could be considered illegal, and one can pay a good lawyer and the other can't, it's likely that only the first one, who has a qualified lawyer, would be set free and thus, "protected" against an arbitrary action of the state. And the same goes for the cases the state creates and illegal task or restrict a certain right.
     
  11. Shimbo The Whisper of Death

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    How about a big system of conciliation, trusted third parties and binding arbitration for lots of other things (like divorce, contracts etc.)?

    Stuff like conveyencing could be done by specialised firms, or these days a lot it ought to be automated.

    I can see that even in my putative system you'd end up with people 'advising' you on how to put the facts to the judge/detective/arbitrator in order to have the best chance of success. Pretty soon these people would be 'helping' you present your case. They'd be lawyers.

    In order to avoid that, I think you'd have to get away from strict written laws. I'm imagining a system where the facts are examined and a decision come to based on general natural law concepts and 'fairness' rather than adversarial advocacy and 'loopholes'.

    Probably wouldn't work, given human nature.:eek:
     
  12. Don_Giorgio Praefectus Praetorio Orientis

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    Something like Judge Dread from comic books???
     
  13. Flocculencio Fabian Socialist Donor

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    It's pretty much the same with law as it is for any profession. Increasingly complex societies tend to push people into specialisation of labour. In a Greek polis, for example it's more feasible for Timon to defend himself against Parmenion becase everyone in town probably is at least acquainted with them and so an appeal to general reason like, "Look, you all know the bastard's been dumping his trash in my olive grove" can work.

    In larger societies this isn't possible- justice must run on a system and you then need people with a specialised knowledge of said system.
     
  14. the_lyniezian Banned

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    You don't perchance mean: You're Under Arrest! You Have Been Found Guilty And Are Sentenced To Death! BANG! (possible hint of :rolleyes:)

    I guess that would certainly remove the need for lawyers: you wouldn't get the chance to plead your case!
     
  15. YLi \m/

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    Think something more like a Chinese magistrate.
     
  16. Shimbo The Whisper of Death

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    I was thinking more of the French Juge d'instruction (Investigating Magistrate). His job is not the prosecution of a certain person, but the finding of truth, and as such his duty is to look both for incriminating and exculpating evidence.

    In the French case though, if I understand it, the investigating magistrate can order remand, but then hands his case over to a normal court. I'm imagining him presenting the facts to a jury who then convict (or not).

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisitorial_system
     
  17. Flocculencio Fabian Socialist Donor

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    Actually IIRC Imperial Chinese magistrates worked much more along the lines of the Inquisitorial system.
     
  18. aktarian illegal in 20 states

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    that would require jurors to know the law very well to make a good decision. Which would create professional jurors which could in turn offer advice to people involved in case. which would make them lawyers in all but name.
     
  19. the_lyniezian Banned

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    This is an idea I'd thought of myself once, that lawyers might be regarded as 'legal advisors' who would be able to explain how the law stands on a particular issue, but could not actually stand up in court and make your case for you, cross-examine witnesses etc. (Forgiving my slight n00bishness here, but I dare say his might make for less annoying legal dramas on TV where some wily lawyer is able to manipulate a witness into giving exactly the aswer (s)he is wanting said witness to give and stoping them by saying 'well that makes my case' or something.)

    Interesting idea, the 'natural law' business. It would certainly remove what I might say are apparent abuses in law due to wrangling over definitions of words, etc. But the drawback is, with no obvious written law, how do you determine what is a definite standard? Say Mr. X shoots Mr. Y who was trying to break into X's property, and injures him, and Y sues X as a result. (I dare say this would be a criminal mater, but let's go with it for now.) X defends himself by saying he has a natural right to defend his property by force, and bear arms, or whatever. Y claims that his injury is likely to affect his right to quality of life, or suchlike. How does one decide what is 'right'? And might case law work in a situation like this? (I guess it might be even more applicable as one does not have a fixed body of law, only past cases from which to draw on.) I dare say you could have an appeals process, though it might be limited to re-examination of evidence and not overturning the views of a previous judge based on his/her sense of what was the right judgement (as you could have reinterpreting a point of law in the existing system).

    Then again, I am thinking along the lines of the existing court system- you do suggest alternatives- arbitration services and suchlike- where it might be asier for parties to reach a settlement based on what is mutually worked out by them as 'fair'.