Monday, January 17, 2011

Is the U.S. Justice System Broken?

Fascinating discussion about whether the U.S. justice system is broken. Full transcript here.

Santa Clara Law Professor David Friedman actually manages to outwit Judge Kozinski in some places. (Go SCU!) But Kozinski still sounds pretty darn funny:

Judge Alex Kozinski [joking]: You know what I find? I find that half of the people love my opinions and half hate them. The first half is called the winners, and the other half is called the losers. I’ve never had somebody come up to me and say, you wrote a great opinion sticking it to me. Never.

Judge Kozinski on reverse condemnation:

The government makes mistakes in all sorts of ways that it does business, and if it were perfect, we would have a very different government and it would be a lot less costly. That is the nature of life that people make mistakes, and it is the nature of government that the government is making mistakes. The question is, are the costs of these mistakes internalized?...The question of whether or not you get just compensation, the question of whether something is a public use—-let me tell you what the debate is about there. The debate is about not whether it’s a public use or not. The question is: who decides? Do executive and legislative branch officials make that decision, or does it get decided by judges? Now, I like the idea that you think that judges and juries ought to make that decision, but actually I think there’s a lot to be said for saying that the decision of whether or not something is a public use gets made by the legislature.

Bonus: David Friedman:

I cannot resist my favorite quote on just this subject: “In nothing did the founders of this country so demonstrate their essential naiveté than in trying to restrain government from many of its favorite abuses and entrusting the enforcement of this restraint to judges; that is to say to men who had been lawyers; that is to say to men professionally trained in finding plausible excuses for dishonest and dishonorable acts.” Now, if someone can just find for me where Mencken said that, I can make sure I’ve got the quote right. Mine is by memory.

Congrats to David Friedman for going toe-to-toe with Judge Kozinski and walking away unscathed.

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