Relevancy – A Dialectic Of Evidence

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The most conspicuous difference between the law’s problems in determining historical facts and those of other disciplines lies in the procedure of decision. Other disciplines rely primarily on the method of inquiry, reflection, and report by trained investigators. In other disciplines the final conclusions as to key facts are drawn by experts, and the conclusions may be changed if they are found later — after further inquiry and reflection — to be wrong. The law, in contrast, depends in most formal proceedings upon presentation by the disputants in public hearing before an impartial tribunal, a tribunal previously uniformed about the matters in dispute. And findings of fact by the tribunal are usually final so far as the law is concerned. – Hart and McNaughton,¬†Evidence and Inference in the Law

The rules and practices of evidence in United States law provide a rich substance to examine from a dialectical perspective. Evidence is a current running through all areas and subjects of the law: varying in importance and proliferation, but nonetheless a key component even when they are supposed to matter less, namely in appeals. While the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) provides much of the infrastructure, the common law and trends of practice within different courts also provides a significant amount of the practices and procedures around evidence. Furthermore, the judge stands as the gatekeeper of evidence, the final word not only on what evidence is allowed but the way in which it is allowed. It is one of the most powerful means by which judges control our legal system, a deeply undemocratic governance full of bigotry and contradiction. One of the few checks on the behavior of individual judges is risk of having their decision overturned on appeal.

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Rise of the Local

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Banner from Movement for Black Lives

There have been two major and very similar policy platforms announced by the organization The Movement For Black Lives and the Green Party. While The Movement For Black Lives focuses on, well, Black lives, a lot of the policies it puts forth especially around economic justice are ones that would benefit all people (except those wealthy few currently controlling the economy and government). The Green Party has finally adopted a platform that is vocally in opposition to capitalism, a long time goal that many youth in the Party fought hard for. I highly recommend reading both platforms, sharing them with your colleagues, and supporting the efforts to get the policies passed and the Green Party (and other Left third parties) into power.

However, there is one component of both platforms I would like to caution enthusiasm¬†and give some alternatives for. Community control, also called local control, is not an inherently problematic concept and I can certainly get behind community control of many things such as the internet. I will be focusing on two community control policies that could have some problems in implementation and result: The Movement For Black Lives policy to gain direct community control over local, state, and federal police and the Green Party policy of “return[ing] to the local, face-to-face relationships.”

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Lenin, Multinationals, and Development in the Global South

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I generally do not write about international law on here because (1) I have 0 training in it and any knowledge comes from my own independent study; (2) because there is a strong presumption of comity in international common law between nations such that many of the issues that I talk about, especially with finance, wind up applying internationally (with obvious notable exceptions like Venezuela). But I had heard a lot about the 2016 UN Conference on Trade and Development so when my law library received a copy of the corresponding report on investment I thought it might be worth making an unusual departure into this mysterious realm.

What peaked my interest was that the UN Conference on Trade and Development is remarkably different from most UN and international institutions that govern economic policy and regulation (the IMF, World Bank, G20 summit, etc.). It is considered to be about as Left as you can get with such an institution in the present world and countries of the Global South have had some, albeit limited, success in defending their interests there to the chagrin of the more powerful and prosperous nations (for my purposes here I am excluding China and India who now inhabit the awkward position of wanting to utilize their former colonization politically while also wanting to surpass the United States in dominating capitalism and perpetuating their own forms of imperialism, especially in Africa).

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Our Duty In A World Of Betrayal

It is the duty of the revolution to put an end to compromise, and to put an end to compromise means taking the path of socialist revolution.
-Lenin, Speech On The Agrarian Question November 14 (1917)

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From El Gran Capitan

 

Torts is the law of damages. It is the godmother of one of the most popular characters in the legal realm: the greedy, unethical personal injury lawyer. Chasing ambulances from dawn to dusk, ready to turn your scraped knee into a traumatic, devastating injury through all the smoke and mirrors the cold, impersonal legal system provides. Like many mythical figures, it derives from a real phenomenon. I once interviewed at a law firm for a paralegal position where one of the two partners pretty closely resembled this character, at least by what assessment I could make in thirty minutes. He all but asked me how good at lying I was and whether I could “handle” clients. But overall, as the film Hot Coffee aptly demonstrates, personal injury lawyers are not like this stereotype and personal injury cases are rarely if ever as easy to dismiss (though again, there are exceptions: for a laugh, check out the case Van Camp v. McAfoos).

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