Tag: judiciary branch

Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 32: If I could redo the legal system

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant 

My boss, Eric Johnson, a divorce attorney, thought it might be a good blog post to write about what I would do if I were to design a new legal system. I think this is an interesting topic and I thought I would take a crack at it. This is a work in progress that will surely change as I develop my thinking and philosophy on the subject, but I thought you might find it interesting to know my thoughts on the subject at the outset. So, in a nutshell, here are my first thoughts: 

  1. Keep the same basic structure as found in the United States, meaning the judiciary function of the government should be a separate entity from the legislative and executive functions. The ideal should be to have an impartial third party (a judge, a jury of one’s peers, etc.) have knowledge of the law and decide the verdict in any given case based on evidence that is presented by the two sides of a conflict.
  2. Make the office of judges and perhaps other judiciary personnel elected offices. 
  3. Make all court proceedings and files public, so that the elected officials are accountable to the public (who funds the courts and the judges’ salaries, after all) for the work they do. Any sort of “sensitive” information that can be used to steal someone’s identity, or something like that, would be redacted, but the rest is open to public view.
  4. Put limits on the length of time it takes a case to work its way through the court system and generate some form of consequence to those administering in the court system if those deadlines are not met. Simplify processes and put simple but effective safeguards in place to facilitate the expeditious resolution of law suits. Provide for severe penalties for lawyers and litigants who delay a case for illegitimate reasons. 

There are several more points I am mulling over, but these are the first few that I think if applied effectively would have an immediate impact on the state of the legal system here in the United States. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277   

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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 24: Legal reform

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant 

As a legal assistant who is relatively wet behind the ears, my thoughts on legal reform will likely seem naïve. With that as a disclaimer, here are my thoughts on legal reform. 

Legal reform is needed but some seem to question the efficacy of using the traditional means of legal reform to correct the flaws in the current system. Here is why it is a bad idea to seek reform by non-traditional, “revolutionary” means:  

  1. “Burn it down and start over” thinking could move us farther away from the Constitution which has proven, despite its limitations and flaws, to be the most effective instrument of regulating earthly justice and freedom ever invented yet. 
  1. A completely new justice system would surely suffer from more flaws, weaknesses, and unintended consequences than the current system (a system that appears to me to be fairly well designed but badly administered). It doesn’t seem wise to lose the progress we have made to this point by risking it on a completely new set of problems incident to a completely new and untried system.  

Besides, the essence of legal reform lies within individuals themselves. We need good people more than we need good laws. Good people govern themselves and do not need a rule or a statute in order to make progress. They know what is right and wrong and they are willing to change if they know they are wrong or learn that they have been mistaken in their actions. Justice is not mere vengeance. Mercy is not mere leniency. Good citizens behave well regardless of whether laws dictate good behavior.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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Do judges interpret the law or do they decide what the law ought to be?

In principle, do judges view themselves as referees where they interpret what the law says or do they view themselves as CEOs where they decide what the law ought to be? 

Trial judges do not make law. They are bound by what the law tells them to do under the circumstances as established by the proof and by other credible, relevant evidence. Where the law and the facts and the relevant evidence don’t dictate to what should be done, judges then exercise their judgment (their “discretion”, as it is known in legal parlance) to decide the issue. 

So judges are more like referees than executives. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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