Food For Thought

I’d like to connect a few seemingly unrelated things, and of course I say ‘seemingly unrelated’ because I’m connecting them.

Duh.  Much explanation.

Anyway, on to it.  You might recall a few weeks ago we put a neat graphic into a post which isn’t one of our strong suits and seems really time-consuming to do but we think readers might like graphics.  Because pretty pictures.  So to save readers time instead of ourselves (much sacrifice!) we reproduce that nifty graphic here: qyisEsJ.png This, as is very easy to see (because graphics) is data tending to show that some sort of major economic-wealth-distribution-imbalance shift occurred in the 1980’s.

Were there any shifts in the justice system that might be consistent with the shift in the data represented by the graphic?

Oh, yes.

First we had this famous (or infamous, depending) “trilogy” of cases coming out of the Supreme Court that enhanced the use of “summary judgment”, whereby a judge can basically deny the little guy a jury trial against the big guy in violation of the little guy’s rights under the 7th amendment, which is what they like to do.  And you don’t have to take my word for this because a law professor – a law professor! – agrees with me.  Her name is Suja Thomas and she talks all about it here:


I’m way graphic today.*  Normally I just would have linked to the article but it seems most readers are just not up to the external link/clicking thing so because I want even those lazy pieces of shit to understand the post here I just implanted it.  I hate myself for it, of course.

Moving on.  Wanna know something else that happened in the 1980’s?  The United States Justice Department staked out the position that they could lie and cheat to get an indictment and that wouldn’t violate anyone’s due process rights.  Although they didn’t really approve of this.  At least not openly.  In any case they took the position, somewhat stealthily, that even if they did it, courts had no power to dismiss indictments. Don’t believe me?  Here’s the relevant excerpt from the Anti-trust division’s Grand Jury training manual from 1991:


The Criminal Division took a very different view of “Grand Jury abuse” in 1983:


You might have to “view” – “rotate clockwise” to read that one.  This graphic stuff much trouble.


In the 1980’s, a couple of Supreme Court opinions made it easier for preferred litigants (bank government, insurance company) to get any cases against them dismissed without a trial, and another Supreme Court opinion or two, not to mention a stealth campaign by the US Department of Justice,  made it easier for the most preferred litigant (the government) to avoid having cases in its favor dismissed without a trial.  And then we had an explosion of incarceration and wealth inequality.

Coincidence?  What do you think?


*  This graphics thing isn’t working well at all.  As far as I can tell, all that shows on the post for the pdf files is a link.  Maybe it won’t treat a pdf file as a “graphic”.  Apologize for any confusion.


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