Incompetent Powers That Shouldn’t Be
A Decentralised Justice
by Jim Davidson
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is
enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to
feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade
them, neither persons nor property will be safe."
— Frederick Douglass
The bailiff pressed a button and a brief siren of lights and sounds alerted the assembled people. Everyone quieted. From a door behind the desk set on the dais an older man with a flowing white beard wearing a brown felt hat adorned with bird feathers and a long flowing black robe adorned with a wide belt strode into the room. He took off his hat, revealing a head of dark hair and took up a black and grey skull cap which he put on before seating himself.
"Good morning," he said. "My name is Tyrone. You'll have made some assumptions based on my appearance unless you've read the procedures for this court of justice. Since many things more are written than are read thoroughly, and many things more are read cursorily than are understood, we shall set a tradition today of reviewing those procedures. I'm no judge.
"My role in these proceedings is as a witness to the proceedings. This gavel serves to interrupt proceedings which I believe need to be reviewed owing to noise, distractions, too many talking at once, or other disorder. As the owner of this room, I have power to clear the room of any or all as it seems wise to me. You may liken my role here as a sort of parliamentarian, in that I know procedures and plan to bring them to your attention.
"All parties to these proceedings may ask questions, of the other participants, of me, and of any others who choose to testify. All parties are free to withhold answers, or to answer as they see fit. No party may be compelled to testify except the accuser and the witnesses brought by the defendant, and these only in established circumstances.
"I'm no judge. I'm a witness. I do not sit in judgement. I'm establishing the tradition of sitting because it is going to be a very long day. I'm up here because this room is my property and I enjoy a view. You may get my attention with the signal button on your phone, assuming you've got the Decentral Justice app tuned to this court. Or shout the word "Witness' and see how it goes. None of you are judges at this time, either.
"Should the prosecutor and defendant in each case choose, a grand jury would be chosen to sit over there," and here Tyrone gestured at the 24 empty seats at his right at the front of the room. "Should the grand jury find cause to indict, a petit jury of 4 to 12 jurors would be chosen from amongst their number to sit in judgement. No one may be compelled to serve on a grand jury and no one may sit on a petit jury more than once per month.
"Such are the basic procedures of this court of justice. This court reviews criminal cases in which harm may be shown. A court of torts is convened weekly to review instances of negligence, again in which harm may be shown, including cases where the parties are under contract to one another and cases where they are not. As a criminal court, the standard here is that no harm means no crime, and harm is limited to physical or biological harm to person or property and not psychological harm to feelings. Feelings may be pursued by the court of torts. Additional standards apply here. A crime may only be said to have occurred if a voluntary action causing physical or biological harm to person or property was engaged in knowingly, intentionally, and maliciously and this court may proceed should a grand jury unanimously so judge.
"To prove guilt, the prosecutors in a case must prove to all members of the petit jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that motive, means, and opportunity were united in the accused and that the actual crime or crimes had been carried out. We have today one and only one case before this court of justice, and so we may proceed.
"For the next ten minutes, I am going to entertain questions and requests. Then we'll conduct the business before this court for one hour. After that time we'll recess for thirty minutes for restroom breaks and small-talk. There'll be another hour of court activity this morning, and additional time after 13:30 when we'll meet back after the mid-day meal." As he said these words the large screen behind him displayed, at the top, the schedule of events and began counting down the ten minutes.
Tyrone: "So, are there any questions?"
At the front of the room, facing the dais were two long tables, behind which were twenty rows of chairs. About a hundred people were in the room. Hovering at the back were twenty drones showing red "recording" lights. Several drones had logos indicating news agencies. Above the doors behind the audience were fixed cameras providing closed circuit television to two large waiting areas, one inside the building and another outside.
Next to each door was a view plate showing the activities on the other side of the door. Another camera drone flew up, pushed the button on the outside of the door, and flew in moments after the automated door opened. The door, finding no other interruption to its operation, closed itself.
From the perspective of the audience the table on the right held a small post with a sign that said "prosecutors" and the table on the left had a similar sign reading "defendant." After an awkward silence of two minutes duration, a lady at the prosecutor's desk stood up and cleared her throat.
Looking at her and smiling, Tyrone said, "Sally, please continue."
Sally said, "Yes, Tyrone, thank you. What form of address is suited, since we aren't to call you 'your honour' or 'judge' please?"
Tyrone: "You may call me Tyrone or Witness. I'll respond to either. Since these are formal proceedings, let's keep it simple."
Sally: "Witness please ask the bailiff to report about the circumstances known to her."
Tyrone: "Jane, if you would, please?"
Tyrone pushed a button on the tablet in front of him and the ten minute clock displayed behind him moved off screen. The timer for the one-hour clock now began.
Jane: "As a commercial bailiff living in the township of Paradox I was presented yesterday, Sunday, with a prisoner in the custody of the prosecutors here present. They texted me a statement of record to the effect that the prisoner, one Joe Jones, had been taken into their custody after a fight outside the Outlaw Bar & Grill on Friday night. Their statement asserts that the undersigned accuse the same Joe Jones did commit murder in the second degree, having been seen by witnesses to stab the victim, Bernard Grossman, repeatedly in the chest and stomach. Their statement is signed Sally Smith and Robert Dockery.
"Accompanying their statement is an affidavit from Doctor Sheila Perino attesting to the death of Bernard Grossman, the decedent being identified by the doctor of her own personal knowledge. The death affidavit certifies that Bernard died from exsanguination due to multiple stab wounds. One of these wounds contained the hunting knife in the bag on the prosecution table. Doc Perino attests she put the knife in there using the bag itself and did not handle the knife directly, and made an effort not to smudge the handle. Due to this method of retrieval, some blood and other matter remained on the knife. I have brought Jones here to court and he is seated at the table for the defence."
During this recitation, the documents mentioned appeared on the screen behind Tyrone with tags appropriate to their content. They were now available via the app to everyone watching the proceedings.
Tyrone: "I see at the defence table my neighbour Ben Stone. Ben, you'll have some words, yes?"
Ben: "Sure. I've posted to the app my credentials as the duly chosen counsel for this defendant. The accused has asked me to enter a plea of not guilty before this court. So entered."
The appointment of Ben by Jones was now visible briefly on screen, too. Using the app, anyone could bring any of the docs onto their own device for a closer look. Everything from the court's procedures to brief biographies on the witness, bailiff, and counsellors were available.
Sally: "The prosecution has entered affidavits from three witnesses to the events of Friday night. We have also entered our credentials as the duly chosen counsel for the victim's family who engaged us Saturday morning for the purpose of capturing the accused and bringing this case to this court. Based upon these items mentioned by the bailiff and by me, we ask the Witness to seek volunteers for a grand jury to be gathered here for the purpose of bringing indictment or no bill against the accused, Joe Jones, for the crime of murder in the second degree."
Tyone: "Any objections?" He paused for half a minute, looking about, and seeing Ben shaking his head briefly, continued, "A reasonable person seeing the information before this court would ask for a grand jury to review the evidence for the purpose of bringing indictment or no bill, and such a request having been entered, we now pause for volunteers to enter their names in the app. If you are willing to serve on a grand jury for whatever length of time is needed to establish whether a crime has been committed, and if you are also willing to serve on a petit jury to evaluate those facts as they may or may not be applicable to the defendant seen here, please signify now. "
[End part one. The story continues in part two.]
Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, actor, and director. He is the cfo of KanehCN3.com and the vision director of HoustonSpaceSociety.net You can find him on Twitter.com/planetaryjim as well as Pocket.app and Flote.app also as planetaryjim.
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