For, at a time when other existing disciplines such as medicine and education made this conversion and many new disciplines such as psychology, sociology and anthropology were styled as sciences at the outset, the discipline of law refused to make the change; clinging to its age old dogma.
Thus, this site argues that law fits the mold of a science in every respect, and it must now lose no time in converting to a social science so that its age old static dysfunctional dogma can give way to open scientific inquiry into a new legal social science that can at last dynamically address human nature and keep pace with social change in all its varied forms.
To accomplish this analysis, this site analizes articles from a wide variety of sources, from Janet Reno and the ABA, to an anthropological analysis of an African tribal dispute resolution system. The material is oriented toward Florida but much of it applies to the U.S. in general.
You will also find no graphics in the site since it has been constructed at the Alachua County (Florida, USA) Library on the Alachua Freenet where the terminals have had no graphics capability.
For a little further information about this site or me, have a look at my April, 1998, SPEECH at the University of Florida. --Bob Allston
As an aid for those with slow operating links, this home page contains a table of contents that links quickly to information further down on this same home page. For some of these links there is no further information and thus there are no further links. However most links from the table of contents go to summary information accompanied by further links.
Thus, if you would like to look over summary information about what is in this site, you may simply scroll down this page; and where you want more detail, you may take the associated link. On the other hand, if you already know what information you want, you may take the table of contents link directly to the summary description further down on this same Web page taking its associated link.
In Florida, the state of legal affairs is a disaster. 59% of the population has no access to the legal system. Only 12% of the people even like lawyers and only 5% of the public think the courts are doing a good job. Many other states have similar problems.
And the problems of the legal profession extend across the board to just about everything lawyers do. Just look at the multitude of proposals for legal reform on the web.
No other profession even comes close to these pathetic figures. We ponder, how could any profession possibly get so far out of whack?
A hundred or more years ago, many new disciplines were coming on line--psychology, sociology, anthropology, to name a few--all styled as sciences from the outset.
Economics (capitalism) was a bit older but still styled as a science from the outset.
Older disciplines, such as medicine and education, converted to sciences (as we now understand the term; which is quite different from our understanding of the term hundreds of years ago).
Religion didn't-- it isn't a science.
If you take the "science" (scientific method-- scientific studies, population surveys, statistical analysis, etc.) out of any of the above sciences, you will freeze them in time. Their knowledge bases will be all but frozen in time. They will no longer have the capacity to mold themselves to the phenomenon they study as it changes over time. As the phenomenon changes the tools to deal with it stay the same. Change that does come would be erratic and far less rational.
As time passed they would begin to lose relevance across the board. They would begin to die on the vine as fewer companies and people hired their graduates; eventually disappearing from the professional scene-- history.
One might expect the practitioners in such a profession to "dig in"; employing all manner of devious devices to hold on. Developing unintelligible arcane language to convince people they "know something". Endlessly petitioning government to give them privileged status. Putting other professions down to build themselves up in public esteem. Etc.
One might expect their practitioners to develop serious mental problems as well, being surrounded with professions increasingly more advanced and capable than they are; attempting constantly to compromise the reality with the fiction they are creating.
What then about law?
All roads lead to Rome. Law and religion go back to Roman times, having much in common. They share highly dogmatic institutionalized hierarchical cultures; very slow to change. Most religions consider that God does not change and therefore, understandably, that religion itself should be careful in accepting change.
Law itself has historical pretensions to God in such things as the divine right of kings reflected in the king's law. It is not surprising therefore that lawyers think (and are probably taught in law school) that their basic dogma and modus operandi is as immutable as if from God.
Indeed, in the past hundred years we have heard much about the divergence between science and religion but little about the divergence between science and law-- a far greater divergence-- with not only far less justification, but indeed no justification at all. For, we are not dealing with the immutability of God's law; but the earthy world, to say the least, of laws made by man-- legislators and judges-- to be exact.
Moreover, virtually anything you can tell me that the legal profession does, I'll find you a social scientist who knows how to do it better, and often far better, through established methods from one of the social sciences. However doing so would quite likely require transgressing what the legal profession considers immutable.
And therein lies the problem.
Law clearly fits the mold of a science as understood at the end of the 19th century (and now). In my travels around the University of Florida campus, I find the law faculty tied to the idea that it isn't a science. The sciences are open to the idea, and the philosophy department, from the standpoint of the philosophy of science, open to it.
The problem is that the legal profession itself has much to lose by converting to a science. For, in converting to a science it would have to accept the social, moral and personal responsibility of a science and equally importantly, it would have to change as the times changed. Or to put it a little more technically, it would have to change to meet the changing requirements of human nature and the human condition; a fundamental and most important capacity of any social science. That is not to say the sciences always get it right in trying to deal with change; but at least there is a bias in that direction that the present legal system clearly doesn't even have.
Thus the legal profession is frozen in time; a time hundreds of years ago--out of date and out of touch. Thus whenever the need for change becomes apparent, citizens are going to have to smash it over the head with a two by four and very likely fail anyway with no more impact than water off a duck's back-- up against its money, state power, influence and age old dogma.
And to resist changing to a science and scientific perspectives, law has an unbeatable asset, shared by no other discipline; a monopoly to do its job (settle disputes) backed by state power. Unlike any other profession, no matter how ridiculous or corrupt it gets, the legal profession doesn't have to worry about losing business; and moreover its got the full backing of unlimited state power to make sure no other profession gets its business. Moreover the more bloated, corrupt and antiquated the system is the more money, power and influence for lawyers.
So why change. Whenever the subject comes up, just cover yourself with specious arguments about the immutability of your way of doing things, perhaps cite the Magna Carta; then sit back and enjoy all that money you are bilking the suckers for with your corrupt bloated antiquated system.
I have found that most of the proposals commonly circulated for legal reform either come out of scientific perspectives or in the least are consistent with them. In other words, if law were a science, it would develop its own character as an independent social science seeded initially from the knowledge bases of many other disciplines.
For the most part we don't have to tell the economics profession the best way to run the economy, nor doctors the best way to treat the body; why should we have to tell the legal profession the best way to run the legal system? For, as a science the legal profession would have its finger on such problems through the normal methods of science such as population surveys and statistical analysis. As society changed it would have both the social obligation and the means of keeping pace with that change as all the sciences have; but neither one of which the present legal system recognizes.
To sum up, the legal profession views their system as having been designed long ago by God in such a manner that it could only be successfully operated by lawyers; whereas in point of fact it was designed long ago by lawyers in such a manner that it could only be successfully operated by God. And the evidence clearly suggests He's not interested.
A word about criminology. The science of criminology occupies a rather unique position in that it owes its existence to the fact that law refused to convert to a science and the need for science in this area was so compelling. However, criminology is sadly only half a science because it is a satellite of the legal profession and whenever its investigations might suggest changes in the legal profession, particularly those that might cost legal jobs, they will get the Magna Carta routine. Most of Florida's 67 counties are a major source of employment for law grads-- prosecutors, public defenders, etc.
In converting law into a science it is most probable that criminology would become an integral part of the legal system itself. For, in the criminal justice system, much of what is now done by lawyers and judges could be far better accomplished through the much more advanced knowledge and perspectives of the psychology and sociology professions, well represented in criminology. The present criminal justice system suffers greatly both from the antiquated modus operandi of the present legal system and a lack of integration with criminology and other more advanced sciences; most prisoners leaving jail far more anti-social and crime prone than when they arrive, just one of its many problems.
Transforming the discipline of law into a science involves far more than just waving a wand over it. It means a lot of work, many long overdue scientific studies; and in essence, developing a new profession and discipline from the ground up. But without question, by applying the vast store of knowledge accumulated over the twentieth century to the task, it has every promise of producing the greatest legal system the world has known; and by a wide margin.
There follows an examination of various problems of the present system,
oriented toward Florida but common to many other states, followed by an
analysis of law as a science in far greater detail, then some historical
observations about how some important past new legal systems were
developed and implemented. I hope you find it informative.
Based on a reform minded attorney's article, this sub-section explores the difference in ideology between legalistic and scientific perceptions of the nature of law.
The Florida legal profession is the most corrupt and dysfunctional of all the professions taught at the University of Florida.
A scam by the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers displays their disdain for their own ethical rules and the democratic process.
The Florida legal system and possibly that of other states has degenerated to the point where except for the rich the majority of Floridians are locked out of the courts and therefore without access to their constitutional and legal rights; and for this reason alone it is questionable whether Florida is still even a constitutional democracy.
Teaching ethics to law students in the present legal system is water off a duck's back as admitted in this ABA sponsored article. And although it quotes numerous law professors, and raises numerous questions begging for scientific (psychological, sociological, etc.) analysis there is not a single such reference. Further proof, if such be needed, of the antiquated closed world and anti-science bias of the present legal profession. Are they afraid it might be established that ethics and morality are incompatible with the practice of law as it exists today; as this article more than suggests?
The previous section investigates the problem of teaching ethics from the ABA's point of view. This section discusses one Florida's principal law schools where law students learn a stock in trade of hypocrisy, sleaze, the good old boy system, intimidation, sexual harassment, more.
The present legal profession itself has the highest incidence of mental problems of all the major professions--which the profession is doing virtually nothing about except sweeping it under the rug. Further proof, if such be needed, of critically serious problems in the core design of this antiquated dysfunctional bit of social structure. And, from the standpoint of a client, even if you are among the lucky few who get their problems into court, it is likely you are paying $150/hr. for a lawyer with mental problems.
According to a recent Florida court study, only 12 percent of Floridians in focus groups assembled to discuss court problems even liked lawyers and only 5 percent of the Florida population even think the courts are doing a good job; further proof, if such be needed, that the present legal system is being inflicted upon Floridians through brute state power rather than through any measure of popular support or respect from the citizenry.
In this section, I present an analysis of my own interaction with the legal system across a broad range of cases and issues: including a number of criminal actions, a declaratory judgment action, a petition for writ of mandamus, a number of Baker Acts, numerous acts of civil disobedience, numerous hunger strikes, the mental health profession, the press, law schools, county courts, circuit courts, courts of appeal, and more.
This broad range of interaction with the legal system provides probably as good as any obtainable glimpse into the true nature and character of the legal system across the board, and thus how it might be improved, cutting through the hype and deception.
This study, based on a series of newspaper articles about Florida's second largest county, analizes and compares the modus operandi of the Florida Bar to the modus operandi of organized crime.
And indeed, as these articles bring out, the Florida Bar has a deal that organized crime could only dream of. For although the Bar embraces the same methods of intimidation and reward, blatant billing fraud, buying and selling politicians, suppressing competition, obtaining favored treatment, openly flouting society's moral, ethical and business conventions, suppressing criticism of their criminal behavior, etc., that organized crime employs, they don't even have to worry about the law (or their own ethical rules), because-- they, with their cronies on the bench-- are the law.
The Rx here is to have a legal system in which (1), the laws are simplified and put into plain language (2), lawyers respect the laws (3), lawyers respect society's rules and conventions, (4), everyone, including lawyers, get equal treatment before the courts (5), lawyers are expected to do a day's work for a day's pay (like all the other professions must do), without (6), insisting on muscling themselves into everyone else's business for personal gain, as they do now. A science based legal system can do it.
This section discusses numerous documents and articles from the media explaining how lawyers representing the States and the Federal Government obtained billions in fees.
The knowledge base to design, implement and operate a functional legal system capable of meeting the varied and complex requirements of human nature at the end of the 20th century has shifted over the past hundred years from the discipline of law (as now constituted) to the sciences. This is a largely theoretical exploration of the subject.
And while Floridians struggle to deal with this very dysfunctional and unpopular legal system characterized by its impossible legalese, a sound scientifically oriented survey by none other than a Florida law professor demonstrates that all of this legalese is entirely unnecessary; and thus any new legal system need not be so plagued.
The British bury legalese.
This multidisciplinary study, employing anthropology, principles of psychotherapy, and linguistics as a minimum, raises numerous questions about the conventional perspectives of the legal profession. Is statutory or case law needed? Are lawyers needed? Are juries needed? What is the function of a judge? More fundamentally it implicitly questions the conventional dogma of the nature of justice and equal justice that the legal profession saddles us with.
This study is 40 years old, and thus it may not be the latest in thinking with regard to the scientific disciplines it employs. However, by the questions it poses and answers it gives, this study demonstrates that these sciences are clearly far more relevant to the understanding of law, and the nature of a legal system in the contemporary world than anything the present legal profession could even think of, let alone pursue, for lack of training if nothing else.
Such studies of our courts and foreign courts would of course be commonplace in a science based legal system; comprising only one of the tools for molding the legal system to meet the requirements of human nature and the human condition. Indeed, this study implicitly answers the question: Is law science-- with a resounding affirmative.
This section contains three articles out of this Web site articulating scientific perspectives and methods for solving legal problems, and two articles addressing equally serious problems that do not articulate scientific perspectives and methods.
They are collected here to demonstrate the dramatic difference in outlook and problem solving abilities exhibited between them. For you will find the science based articles exhibit a focused "lets get on with it" perspective whereas the non-science based articles (addressing subjects equally amenable to scientific treatment) are less focused exhibiting a "Gee-- what ever can be done about this?", perspective.
The bottom line being that solving these and most of the legal system's other serious problems at the end of the 20th century can be done far more efficiently, and in many cases, only, through the advantage of employing the perspectives and tools of science.
The design of a science based legal system requires a multi-disciplinary effort requiring the resources only available as a practical matter at universities. And because it requires a broad multi-disciplinary approach for such a contemporary system to take demonstrable form, the design must be carried out on a volunteer unfunded basis, if it is to be done at all, until it reaches the point where it can be shown to the public and legislature to be demonstrably superior to the existing system.
When such a point is reached funding can be requested out of currently scheduled projects that could be cut back or eliminated under the proposed system. For example, if the new system can demonstrate that all or part of the projected (indeed grotesque) build-up of 76,000 more Florida PRISON BEDS over the next ten years should be unnecessary the legislature should be willing to fund the project with some of the savings. Such an amount could be substantial; 76,000 beds is double the student population of the University of Florida and at $15,000/bed, we might be talking about something like an amount that could construct and operate two universities the size of the University of Florida which has a student population of around 40,000.
History suggests that once public and legislative support should be obtained, academic teams could work on statutes and other aspects such as a user friendly plain English computer legal data base, artificial intelligence tools, etc. to be handed over to the legislature for acceptance or re-working as the case might be on a piecemeal basis; and upon completion the entire system made operational on a particular day. This is the way, for instance, such major re-writes of legal systems such as the Code of Justinian of 533 a.d. for the Roman Empire and the code of Napoleon of 1804 for France (including as well parts of Italy and Germany) were done.
In our predominantly western culture, for hundreds of years our universities have been the keepers of the faith; nurturing, facilitating and preserving our culture. Thus it is only fitting that we call upon them to undertake this ultimate task; to preserve and continue our culture before this rogue legal system causes yet further and very possibly irreparable damage.
Indeed, when one considers the technical and intellectual difficulties overcome, the diverse cultures and languages that had to be administered to and numerous other difficulties overcome in these past legal systems, with today's knowledge (such as computer databases, knowledge of the human mind, human relations, linguistics, etc.) we should have every reasonable expectation of being able to create not just a passable legal system but the best one ever known to mankind; and by a substantial margin. That is-- if we can ever get the one we have off our backs. Admittedly, no small task.
NOTHING VENTURED nothing gained; but if nothing is ventured, on the next downturn in the business cycle it needs to be said that when all the present progressively developing problems are thereby aggravated and new ones appear, we could be flirting with disaster.
For as long as mainstream culture continues to lose population to the homeless, drug, and crime cultures on the one hand and paramilitary and militia groups on the other; all three groups mutually antagonistic one to another, the future will remain clouded. And a corrupt and dysfunctional legal system, civil and criminal, is central to this transfer out of the mainstream.
Now when economic times are relatively good and there is a lull in terrorist activity is the time to address turning the legal system around.
Last but not least, I would be remiss not to thank the staff at the Alachua County (Gainesville, Florida) Library for their always kind and professional assistance, the sponsors of the Alachua Freenet, public and private, for making the system available, and the many unsung dedicated technical people who keep it going and are constantly upgrading it. This is my first introduction to the Alachua Freenet or the WWW (which no doubt shows in my amateurish use of html) and I love it. It is surely one of the best examples of democracy and capitalism working together in the interests of free speech and the free interchange of ideas.
This is a forum for all interested in helping to build a consensus on what a contemporary functional legal system would look like. Your thoughts and contributions are invited. My e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org