Justice Under Attack
Editorial by Kerry Hoxie, Esq.
As very young children we learn to chant the pledge of allegiance and the magic words "liberty and justice for all" become a part of our vocabulary. In school, we learn that these are fundamental values in our country -- and that individual rights will be protected.
I came of age in the practice of law in what I now know was a Golden Age - a time when civil rights were being enforced and even expanded. It was exciting! We really meant that there should be liberty and justice for all. But . . . things have dramatically changed.
Civil rights are being curtailed or eliminated in every way imaginable - some outright by new laws in the wake of 9/11 and some more furtively by writing laws which limit damages, limit access to attorneys, and even limit access to the courts (imagine laws saying claims of injustice cannot be taken to the court). An underlying agenda is to limit corporate liability and prevent people from enforcing their civil rights -- rights to privacy, due process, and the right to hold individuals and corporations responsible when they injure us.
Businesses have invested billions to convince the public that our legal system is "out of control" and needs to be fixed and to elect officials who will support the agenda. Riding on this public opinion myth, 20 states have enacted laws limiting liability for injuries and limiting damages which can be recovered and more bills are pending. Federalization of our laws is now a constant threat. All of our liberties are under attack - labor rights, public education, the environment and public programs like social security and medicare. The right to justice is being destroyed!
We must all get involved! Your rights and those of your family, friends and clients are in grave jeopardy, especially in this election year. We as attorneys are best able to see the threats beneath the "sound-bite rhetoric". Study what is happening and respond. Watch the ATLA, CAOC and CASD websites for the latest developments, read CASD's List Serve, post information there which you think will help in the fight or misinformation which needs to be refuted, write to the papers, talk to your clients and neighbors and friends, and get involved with CASD's committees. We simply must fight back to stop this decimation of our right to justice.
Reprinted from Trial Bar News, Vol. 27, Issue 4, April 2004, P.15