Saturday, June 23, 2018

2 Paragraphs 4 Liberty: #165 “Define the ‘Rule of Law'”

Screen Shot 2012-06-01 at 1.05.41 PM                As has been affirmed numbers of times during this series, a Free Society must not count upon “good people” to ensure Liberty and good results for its members.  Why?  Because we can neither count upon those good people always to do the right thing or, even if we could, we cannot count upon having a continuing succession of good people to replace them.  So a free society instead must rely upon the “Rule of Law.”  But what does that mean?  It means that, although they don’t have to be perfect, the same rules must apply to everyone.  But where there are exceptions, whether based upon wealth, power, “holiness” or fame, the Rule of Law collapses.

Okay, but wait a minute: Life is Complicated, so how can all rules apply equally to everyone?  Well, there is a difference between simplification and being simplistic.  Many rules could be simplified so that they could be understandable and enforceable for everyone without being simplistic.  For example, the present income tax system is unfathomable, the healthcare system is a bureaucratic nightmare, and most licensing laws and requirements are strongly skewed in favor of those who are currently licensed.  And, as you can see, most of these problems are caused by government.  How did this come about?  The fact is that Big Government is genuinely good at at least one thing, and that is continually to increase the power, cost and scope of Big Government.  We have seen that now for decades.  And this reinforces Thomas Jefferson’s comment that “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”  But, on the contrary, the Free Market can work all of these things out without government involvement.  As long as the government has judicial protections in place to ensure that free-will contracts and the laws against theft and fraud are enforced – which is to say that we will have the Rule of Law – everybody will win.  Except Big Government and its favored special interests.  If you agree, then please vote accordingly.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President,
along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President

** Bizarre Fact of the Week:
Did you know that one time Charlie Chaplin entered into a “Charlie Chaplin Look-Alike contest,” and came in third?

 

And by the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, and WordPress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com. Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty!



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2 Paragraphs 4 Liberty: #164 “Change The Bail System”

Judge1                According to the Prison Policy Initiative, on any given day there are about 630,000 people confined in local jails around our country and, of those, 443,000 are in pre-trial confinement.  That is 70 percent!  And why are they in custody before trial?  Yes, because some are considered either to be dangerous to others or a flight risk, but the strong majority stay confined because they don’t have access to enough money to make bail.  What difference does that make?  Tragically, many of them will unnecessarily lose their jobs, which means that their families will not be able to make their rent payments which, in turn, frequently contributes to the break-up of families.  The law says that there are only two factors in determining whether people should be held in custody before trial.  The first is whether they likely will appear at court for their trial, and the second is whether, in the meantime, they are a threat to other people.  Straightforwardly, and speaking from first-hand experience, judges live in fear of releasing someone who then goes on to harm witnesses or other people.  So is the answer never to release anyone?  Well no, not only is that not Constitutional or even fair, it is also impractical because we don’t have the jail space.  So this puts us into a situation in which risks must be assessed.  So is money a good indicator of either of these two issues?  Not really.  The main indicators instead are the type of charges that people are facing, and whether they have close ties to the community, such as a job, a family with children in school, and the person’s past history of convictions and/or failures to appear in court.

Presently there is a bill in Sacramento, Senate Bill 10, to change our bail system away from bail and toward a system that individually addresses each person’s individual issues.  This is more like the federal system, and we all should want it to pass.  Why?  Today, if people are charged with even misdemeanors, it is common for them to be required to post $5,000 or even $10,000 in bail.  That means that they will have to pay a bail bond company a non-refundable ten percent of that bail, which in those cases would be $500 or $1,000.  Honestly, if I had to, I could quickly pay even more than that.  But many people cannot.  And it is wrong for people to be kept in pre-trial confinement simply because they do not have access to that kind of money – particularly since having access to money is not an indication of propensities to be dangerous or a flight risk.  By the way, the further result of the large numbers of pre-trial confinement is that many prisoners who have already been tried and convicted and are serving their sentences are released early due to jail overcrowding.  Not an equitable situation.

The new bill would require each county to have a detention release officer who would gather information about all detainees and then prescribe individual conditions for them to be released.  For example, maybe some people would be required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet that would broadcast their location.  If it was removed, or if they went into areas that were prohibited to them, an alarm would go off.  That furnishes both good accountability as well as good deterrence!  Or others who had substance abuse or mental health problems could, as a condition of their release, be required to begin programs to address those issues.  And, since it is simply wrong unnecessarily to punish anyone before they are convicted, Liberty also would be a winner.  So please contact your members of the Legislature and request that they support SB 10. All of these common sense responses would help everyone concerned, except the bail bond industry.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President,
along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President

 

** Quote of the week:
“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” -Thomas Jefferson

And by the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, and WordPress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com. Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty!



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2 Paragraphs 4 Liberty: #163 “Thank You For Your Service”

0 (1)                One of the most flaming breaches of contract I know about is still being perpetrated by our own federal government (namely, by us all) upon some of our military Veterans.  For example, it is estimated that about 30 percent the homeless population both in Los Angeles and Orange Counties are Vets.  And the statistics for Veterans committing suicide are similarly disturbing.  There must be a connection!  But the problem is that today that, although Veterans are formally entitled to receive healthcare services, a myriad of obstacles are put in their way before that is realized.  That simply must be changed!  Being in war creates many scars, many not visible, and those conditions can result in almost permanent disabilities.

But realistically nothing really will change until each of us shows that we care.  This means we must all become more informed, and then we must act.  One way to begin this process would be to see “Thank You for Your Service.”   This is a fictional film based upon the non-fiction book of the same name by Washington Post reporter David Finkel.  The film follows various Vets of the Iraq war as they re-enter society and struggle against other unseen enemies, such as the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Another more direct way would be to support a 501(c)(3) organization called Veterans Legal Institute, which is involved in two worthwhile efforts.  The first is to provide free legal assistance to homeless and low-income Vets in an effort to eradicate the barriers they face regarding housing, education, employment and healthcare.  The second is to identify structural problems that interfere with our veterans’ transition to civilian life, and then advocating for reforms and changes to public policy.  For further information about VLI, please visit www.vetslegal.com.

I often fly a banner in the front yard of my house which says “Land of the Free Because of the Brave.”  We Americans today have our Liberty in large part because of our Veterans, and many were permanently wounded for that cause.  Let’s thank them by helping them overcome the maladies that many still bear as a result of that service.  This breach of contract must come to an end!

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President,
along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President

** Quote of the week:
“Repetition does not transform a lie into the truth.” -Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 

And by the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, and WordPress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com. Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty!



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2 Paragraphs 4 Liberty: #162 “The Rule of Law as the Protector of Liberty”

Judge-Jim-Gray             Without the rights of everyone being enforced, no one’s rights can really exist. In that regard, it is important to understand that our country is not a Democracy, which was defined by Benjamin Franklin as two wolves and a lamb voting upon what to have for dinner. No, we are a Republic, where the rights of lambs can be protected. And how can our rights best be protected? We must have institutions which are based upon the Rule of Law and which enshrine our Liberty.

Socrates and Plato understood this, and based their philosophy upon the argument that relying upon good rulers and citizens to possess the cardinal virtues of wisdom, justice, courage and moderation was a mistake because it could not be assured. A stark example is seen with President Franklin Roosevelt. Remember, he once so prominently said “We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religions-bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality. Whoever seeks to set one nationality against another, seeks to degrade all nationalities.” that it is engraved in stone at his Memorial in Washington DC. However, he is also the person who caused thousands of Japanese-Americans to be interned during World War II.* No, we cannot rely upon individuals, we must instead put our faith in the Rule of Law. Our great country’s Founders followed that approach in creating our Constitution and its Bill of Rights, which ensure the rights of all. And this is the reason that the United States of America has traditionally had more freedom than any other country in the world.

** I do, however, acknowledge that one of the times our institutions failed us was in the US Supreme Court’s decision in Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), which was a landmark case upholding the constitutionality of FDR’s Executive Order 9066, which ordered Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II regardless of their citizenship.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President,
along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President

** Quote of the week:
“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.” -Aubrey de Grey

 

And by the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, and WordPress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com. Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty!



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2 Paragraphs 4 Liberty: #161 “Treating People As People”

key_gray                I am proud to say that my Father remains one of my biggest heroes.  As an example, a long time ago when I was a prosecutor and he was a judge in the Los Angeles Federal Courthouse, I would continually see him not only greeting the custodians in the hallways, but even asking about their children – all by name!  And they would literally glow in response.  It was not his way to speak to me about things like this, instead he led by example.  So I started doing the same thing.  Amazingly enough, the first time I did this was to the custodian who was cleaning my office.  When I greeted him by name, which I knew from the label on his shirt, he literally stopped in his tracks.  Then told me that he had been working here for ten years, and I was the first attorney ever to address him by name.   The irony of this was that I eventually learned that he was the father of one of the stars on the UCLA Basketball team.   So that was my unneeded tangible reward for treating people as people.

The fundamental truth is that people everywhere simply want to be treated with dignity, and most people will respond accordingly when that happens.  So this brings me to another story about my father.  One weekend he went up to Lompoc Federal Prison to take a tour, and he happened to take my wonderful mother with him.  As my mother later recounted, during the tour the warden said that there would be a talent show that afternoon presented by some of the inmates, and asked if they would like to attend.  Sure, was the answer.  So before the show began, my father was sitting in the first row, with the warden on one side of him and my mother on the other.  And next to my mother was an inmate, who struck up a conversation by saying: “Mrs. Gray, I’m sure you don’t know this but your husband was the judge who sentenced me to be here,” whereupon my mother became a bit uncomfortable.  The inmate continued: “Yes, and he actually gave me a maximum sentence,” whereupon my mother started leaning over toward my father.  “But,” the inmate went on, “Judge Gray treated me with such respect during all of the proceedings, that he is my favorite judge – and I have had lots of judges!”  Bottom line, treating people as people works – for everyone.  So please join me in saying hello to the people who clean our hotel rooms and mow our grass, as well as those who are in wheelchairs or are in other ways disabled.  They are anxious simply to be recognized as the human beings they are, and we are blessed to have the Liberty to do just that!

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President,
along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President

 

** I once saw this statement on a sign at a bar:
“Bad decisions make for the best stories.”

And by the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, and WordPress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com. Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty!



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2 Paragraphs 4 Liberty: #160 “When Liberty Can Turn Ugly”

0 (3)                Where Liberty is not connected with accountability, the results can turn ugly.   For example, in a study about how people act first when they can be identified as opposed to anonymously, some observations were made on the same people first when they were on an elevator and then later when they were driving their cars.  While on the elevator, most would say “After you,” and the responses would be “No, after you.”  But when the same people were driving their cars, and thus anonymous, they would normally try to cut off the other drivers.  That’s what anonymity can do.  To sum up this thought, the great UCLA Basketball Coach Johnny Wooden put it best by saying that “Your reputation is the way others perceive you, but your character is how you act when no one else is looking.”  Under this definition, we all know that some people’s character when they have the Liberty to act anonymously can be ugly.

And this is a problem, because today we are all facing circumstances in which Russian agents seemingly were able anonymously to plant stories intended to influence the outcome of our recent presidential elections; some people are hiding their identities on the Internet in an attempt to coerce sexual photographs or even liaisons with other unsuspecting people; and anonymous donors are funneling money into elections for their selfish goals.  So what can be done about this problem?  Our institutions should adjust as best they can to reduce anonymous acts, and thus restore accountability.  Of course this can be touchy, because the more the government intrudes into private transactions, the more that Liberty can suffer.  But life is a constant tradeoff of some interests against others.  Liberty is not only important, it is sacred.  And sometimes total Liberty must be reduced to protect us from other people’s predatory and ugly natures.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President,
along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President

 

** Here is one of my favorite anonymous quotes:
“Recently I have read so much about the harmful effects of what we eat, breathe and drink that I have decided to give up reading.”

And by the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, and WordPress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com. Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty!



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