HOW HAS THE LEGAL SYSTEM EVOLVED OVER THE PAST TWENTY YEARS, AND HOW HAS THAT AFFECTED THE STATE OF THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK TODAY?
south plainfield, New Jersey
In general, the legal system is evolving towards a more totalitarian system, with stricter laws and less deference for individual rights.
The legal system in the U.S. is contolled by a combination of constitutional law, legislation and case law rule. Constitutional due process requires that a person is entitled to notice of a legal action and the right to appear and defend before a neutral decision maker.
Legislatures have tended to try to remove judicial discretion, provide victim's with greater rights, and eliminate the need for the "hearing," as far as is constitutionally permissible. Courts have generally resisted this process to the extent that it impairs traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.
A novelty of modern criminal law is that, while historically, felonies only existed where there was a violent crime -- today, all manner of non-violent crime is enacted as a felony, in order to provide law enforcement with the ability to arrest without first obtaining a warrant, and without personally observing the commisson of the crime.
A novelty of modern civil law is that temporary restraining orders are routinely granted on the slimest of grounds, without a hearing with both parties present, even though the petitioner cannot show that he/she will suffer irreparable harm if the temporary order is not granted.
A novelty of the modern judicial process is that courts, more and more, tend to observe the idea that they should prefer governmental authority to individual rights. This tendency is observed by the recent appointments of Justice Roberts and Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court -- both of whom lean heavily towards permitting the government strong deference in interpreting its own laws -- rather than having the courts interpret those laws.
The classic march of civilization is from chaos towards order, followed by a breakdown of order into chaos again. At the moment, the legal system continues its march towards more order -- with the final result inevitably one of totalitarian control. The only question is when chaos will intervene again.
Note: the above comments are purely personal opinion. I make no pretense to objectivity.
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