United States Justice System
By Pat Foster
During the French Revolution, the concept of communism first arose as equal treatment
under the law by all classes of society. If a nobleman’s son and a serf’s son each
injured another person, both should be treated equally under the law for the same
The first and most important reason people first got together to create a government
was to establish an equitable system for handling disputes between people. When we
are in a court of law, we address the judge as “your honor” denoting a special place
in our society that deals with justice. Does our system live up to these high ideals
we place on our courts to render justice to its’ citizens?
Any system of justice must always weigh more heavily toward the law, than the ability
of one party to use their financial resources to the detriment of their opponent.
Judges must be forced to rule based upon the law with few exceptions.
There is a major conflict of interest within our state laws that largely prevents
an ideal system of equitable justice and actually promotes a system of unequal treatment
based upon who can pay the most to the judge. This conflict of error can be remedied
by the people with full knowledge of the conflicts involved and a way to correct
Michigan Election Law, MCL 169.235(2) allows all elected judges to opt out of filing
their campaign finance reports. This provides the judges with a tax free account
for large contributions that can sway decisions while they are on the bench. This
law creates a possibility that you can have corruption within the legal system.
Your next logical question is that these campaign finance accounts are all public
documents open to public inspection through the Freedom of Information Act known
as FOIA. All public documents are specifically subject to a FOIA inspection unless
they are specifically exempted under the act. MCL 15.243(1)(r) specifically states:
“Records of a campaign committee including a committee that receives money from a
state campaign fund” is one of the exemptions under this act. Since the judges are
the only persons exempt from filing campaign finance reports, the state legislators
have specifically exempted them public inspection through the Freedom of Information
Act. This provides an almost impenetrable tax free account for judges to receive
large contributions from parties that come before them including law firms.
While Michigan has a high probability for a corrupted system of justice, what does
it say for the other states? If you are a judge taking bribes as campaign contributions,
it usually means that the party bribing him does not have the law on their side of
the argument. When a judge makes a decision on a case in direct opposition to the
law, it is called an abuse of discretion. If you want to disqualify a judge for an
abuse of discretion, you cannot do it. The United States Supreme Court in Caperton
v. The A.T. Massey Coal Company established a standard for disqualification of a
judge. You must prove not only an abuse of discretion, but an “extraordinary circumstance”
that goes along with it. Prior to Caperton, there was no real way you could get a
judge to disqualify themselves, but apparently so many judges have abused their campaign
finance accounts for even the U.S. Supreme Court to accept it.