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Ralph Nader: The Duty Of Lawyers

by Ralph Nader | Huffington Post

What happens when the rule of law increasingly bows to the whims and violations of unaccountable public officials?

In the United States, we are seeing the rule of law eroded by those at the top levels of our government. We are witnessing the dismantling of the guiding principles of justice and the rule of law. Our legal system has been gamed to preferentially serve the needs of the few rather than those of the many.

The rule of law should be a persistent guard against -- rather than an instrument of -- unfair advantage or injustice for those with power, money and influence.

Our elected officials have failed in their duty to uphold the rule of law. This malfeasance has led to secret law, secret courts, secret evidence, secret budgets and secret prisons under the guise of "national security." There is surveillance of attorney-client communications, unauditable secret expenditures for foreign military exploits, dragnet snooping of electronic and telephone data and even redacted published judicial decisions.

Habeas corpus has been tarnished by the inhumane and unjust treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay including many already cleared by the government but still jailed. Infinite detention has tarnished our legal system. Some dictocrats even argue that American citizens should be subjected to indefinite imprisonment.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ralph-nader/rule-of-law_b_3516...

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I have personally met Ralph and I sensed he is a good man. He spoke well of RP.

There are disagreements but he is against monopolies in both public and private arenas and thus for liberty.


The Zenger Trial: On Duty

This is the right occasion to celebrate one of the most significant trial lawyer/jury moments in our American heritage:

" A half-century after the Zenger trial, as members of the First Congress debated the proposed Bill of Rights, one of the Constitution's principal drafters and great-grandson of Lewis Morris, Gouvernor Morris, would write of the Zenger case: 'The trial of Zenger in 1735 was the germ of American freedom, the morning star of that liberty which subsequently revolutionized America.'"


This is a story of a lawyer, his whistleblowing client, and the jury of 12 men who made their stand nullifying a prosecution for seditious libel, thereby acknowledging one of the truths Zenger published:

"The loss of liberty in general would soon follow the suppression of the liberty of the press; for it is an essential branch of liberty, so perhaps it is the best preservative of the whole.  Even a restraint of the press would have a fatal influence.  No nation ancient or modern has ever lost the liberty of freely speaking, writing or publishing their sentiments, but forthwith lost their liberty in general and became slaves."

Zenger's defense was taken up by Andrew Hamilton of Philadelphia, 'perhaps the ablest and most eloquent attorney in the colonies'-- when his original two lawyers both were disbarred by the Chief Justice when they audaciously objected to the two-man court the government had hand-picked to try Zenger's case. Hamilton's summation still stands as eloquent testament to the course to which we are still called today:

The Duty Of Seditious Whistleblowers:

"It is natural, it is a privilege, I will go farther, it is a right, which all free men claim, that they are entitled to complain when they are hurt.  They have a right publicly to remonstrate against the abuses of power in the strongest terms, to put their neighbors upon their guard against the craft or open violence of men in authority, and to assert with courage the sense they have of the blessings of liberty, the value they put upon it, and their resolution at all hazards to preserve it as one of the greatest blessings heaven can bestow...."

The Duty Of Their Lawyers:

"I should think it my duty, if required, to go to the utmost part of the land where my services could be of any use in assisting to quench the flame of prosecutions upon informations, set on foot by the government to deprive a people of the right of remonstrating and complaining, too, of the arbitrary attempts of men in power...."

The Duty Of Jurors:

"It is the best cause.  It is the cause of liberty.  And I make no doubt but your upright conduct this day will not only entitle you to the love and esteem of your fellow citizens, but every man who prefers freedom to a life of slavery will bless and honor you as men who have baffled the attempt of tyranny, and by an impartial and uncorrupt verdict have laid a noble foundation for securing to ourselves, our posterity, and our neighbors, that to which nature and the laws of our country have given us a right to liberty of both exposing and opposing arbitrary power (in these parts of the world at least) by speaking and writing truth."

"The Zenger trial established no new law with respect to seditious libel, but in unmistakable terms it signaled the public's opposition to such prosecutions.  Concern about likely jury nullification discouraged prosecutions, and press freedom in America began to blossom."

Apparently Ralph

does not know of the true nature of the MOCK courts we have here, Admiralty Law and Jurisdiction etc.

We do not have courts that practice common/constitutional law. And that goes for Attorneys as well. I would almost all are bottom feeders and yet maybe some actually think there is a system in place that is true.

Put that together with the monetary system that we have and it's a NO win situatuion for anyone seeking the so called JUSTICE the courts dish out.

Even with the dastardly alliance of the state with the courts, the monetary system, the prisons/jails and the law enforcement and the DOJ etc - the corruption is the LEAST of the problems.

The courts are not set up to administer true justice to anyone. They are basically ATM machines with revolving doors.

Either he chooses not to be knowledgeable about this or he is ignorant of how it is supposed to work.

Oops, I almost forgot about the foundation - Britain and the BAR etc.

Ralph can write about it until the cows come home. It will NOT change.

Ron Paul is My President

This indictment of the US

This indictment of the US legal system predates the era of Ron Paul's Liberty Movement. It is sweeping, a bit rambling, and many would regard it as a shrill summary, but anyone who is familiar with how things work would be hard pressed to find the hyperbole in the depiction:


"Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence."

-- Thomas Jefferson

This article is 8 years old

although still relevant and much worse now.

But what he is writing about are the consequences of the admiralty law being practiced, the jurisdiction used and the FAKE courts ( judges, attorneys etc. )using these methods that I wrote of above.

It is like saying that inflation is high prices.

He does not address the root. That and the 13th amendment stricken from
the present day Constitution are at fault.

Put that together with the deliberate dumbing down of the populace and this is the outcome.

Ron Paul is My President

In reality, the rule of law

In reality, the rule of law went down hill shortly after George Washington left office. If anyone doubts it, please research the demise of the American Indians. The Trail of Tears (removal and relocation of several Indian tribes from the eastern US to west of the Mississippi river) is one of many examples. Having said that, I do not have a solution to the problem.

We The People, In Jury Assembled

"The only real lawyers are trial lawyers, and trial lawyers try cases to juries."

– Clarence Darrow

Our once venerable and inviolate jury system was not meant to be regarded like mere anachronistic platitudes of our heritage, but as practical solutions.

“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”

      -- Thomas Jefferson

I'll betcha Ralph would not disagree.

You're wrong

Ralph would disagree. He was not a trial lawyer that I am aware of.

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."-- Albert Einstein

Ralph Nader Is The Dashboard Saint Of Trial Lawyers

Ralph is the principled hero of those who try cases to juries. Ralph comes to the battle as a public advocate, but make no mistake, he understands the role of private attorneys advancing public benefit pursuing the private rights of individual clients.


Tort deform of the insurance lobby and 'tough on crime' sycophantic government lawyers being allowed to fill the ranks of the judiciary without trial honed credentials was an 'accomplishment' of the suckers from the political right these past few decades. I don't know how many cases Ralph has tried ( likely not many since his prominent career in the public eye took off over the past 50 years), but I have no doubt he understands, and his solutions are more on track on behalf of the cause than most conservative strategies, who have mistakenly been duped to count the corporate/government complex as allies. Ralph's heart is in the right place and, as always, he trys to muster unfocused resources to do battle against the right enemies.

that's funny

I am a trial lawyer and have worked in trial litigation firms for years and have never heard anyone wax poetic about Ralph Nader.

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."-- Albert Einstein

It Depends On How And Where You Roll

Speaking of roles ( refer to the Clarence Darrow quote):
Litigators litigate as much as possible in court proceedings. They throw paper. Trial lawyers view these preliminary proceedings as unwelcome hurdles on the way to the jury trial.

Litigators don't wax poetic about anything. They talk and write like affidavits. They snark.

Trial Lawyers live to champion the underdog. Give a Trial Lawyer a client with a true cause, a good fight, a deep pocket, a lime light, at least a chance at a fair trial -- he and the jury will save the republic.

One case at a time.


nice semantics

but in the real world, trial lawyers = trial litigators.

I rather suspect you are not an attorney at all, and are as such, just speculating about what a trial lawyer or a trial litigator is or does. But you don't actually know, not from firsthand experience. Talk about something you know, that way it sounds less foolish, and certainly less pompous than quoting Clarence Darrow to support the idea that Ralph Nader is a hero to all trial lawyers. He isn't.

What exactly did Ralph Nader ever do as a trial lawyer?

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."-- Albert Einstein

Voir Dire ?

If so, it's best as open ended inquiry. Litigators like hearings without listening.

A litigator might puff with credentials. A trial lawyer would pause over the reason for this communication. I don't view this as about Ralph, or you, or me... So I'll take the 5th.

" The right reasons are not about the self. We think of ourselves as separate from one another, for only by such thinking can we become a king or queen. Without separation, there could be no kingdom. There would be no heros. No worshipers. No pats on the back. So we think about the self. How am I doing? How am I looking? Where am I going? My chest feels really good puffed out like this."


May I commend to you this superb article presenting lessons to distinguish art from craft and offering insights more profound:

What's the point?

"So how do we become poets? How do we do jury trial as an art form? How do we say what is really going down and do it in a way that our meaning sinks deep into the jury's very soul? How do we use both sides of the brain?"

To speak the truth


This is delicious reading. I

This conversation is delicious reading. I can't quit laughing, LibBerte.

Voir Dire is a new favorite. I've missed these DP gems. The Andrew Hamilton summation gave me goosebumps. Someone needs to get that to Edward Snowden.

BTW- My hard drive died last March. I lost all my email addresses. When you have time, maybe you could send off an email to me.

Zengers and Zingers

Realdeal, I haven't seen you around the DP neighborhood for sooo long. I always thought you were one of the few who bothered to click through my self indulgent links, so without you I feel like I'm whistling in the breeze. So nice to hear from you.
Speaking of neighborhood, many midwestern state constitutions were drafted with the legacy of the Zenger case still very vibrant, though more than a century had passed. Many states like Wisconsin and Iowa, for example, enshrined the jury right with language absolute on it's face "shall remain inviolate" but in modern times are regarded as mere empty platitudes by jealous, petty judges, and the complacent citizens who tolerate encroachments amounting to constitutional usurpations. Wisconsin, like New York as it's model, actually fashioned constitutional provisions which can only be understood as direct codification of the lessons of Zenger as they expressly protect the jury's right to decide both the law and the facts in matters of libel.

To this day, the magnitude of importance attendant the duties described in Andrew Hamilton's exhortation still gives me a shutter; part chill, and part horror at the consequences of such post-modern derelictions.


Babble bubble new age

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."-- Albert Einstein

"Fear Not ...

... 'On Becoming A Trial Lawyer' is not a new age graphic massage for the soul ..."



so you posted a book review?

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."-- Albert Einstein



We need to finance trial lawyers to try cases to juries.

Using money to make political noise fails to contest laws that enslave or intervene.

Congress with its authority to borrow and steal tends to draw the worst scoundrels a nation can produce.

Money can also be used to 'protest' Congressional follies before juries.

Free includes debt-free!

Good idea but keep in mind

It isn't just paying for the "trial" that would be needed, though every bit counts.

If one is contesting an unjust law, one will probably LOSE hard at the trial level. At that level, jury instructions are going to be given that make it quite clear what the jury needs to do with the facts. And the judge does have the ability to grant a judgment notwithstanding the verdict or JNOV should the jury somehow pull off nullification, despite the court's best efforts.

(Please note I am in favor of nullification but it rarely happens and most courts are dead set against it).

After losing at the trial level, you will then have to appeal it. But unless you have a really solid constitutional argument to invalidate the law, you'll probably lose here, too, as the appellate court level in most states doesn't very often overturn laws and legal precedent.

That means you might have to be prepared and funded to appeal or seek cert from a state or the federal supreme court. Keep in mind that it doesn't hear all cases that seek for its jurisdiction.

So, it is a long, hard-fought process to take back the law through the courts.

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."-- Albert Einstein

Justice is out to lunch.

A Federal Judge killed and an Congresswoman disabled and no investigation.

One might get the idea that killing troublesome Federal Officials is allowed.

JFK, RFK, MLK,... and the beat goes on.

Free includes debt-free!

Nader Does Not Tell The Whole Story

Nader correctly recognizes the problems that result from lawyers who ignore the real reasons for their existence. But his suggestion - that lawyers become better at representing the needs of people - is too simplistic to have any value.

We must not simply look at the character and competency of individual lawyers. We must also look at the system that lawyers must use.

The major problem with law is that it is a government sanctioned monopoly. It is a tool of the voting majority - the democratic mob. The mob sanctions our big money, politically operated legal system. Hence, the political system is nothing more than a mob. Regardless of how well meaning any individual lawyer might be, he must work within this system.

As others have noted in this thread, most voters do not have any interest in the legal system so they just let it happen.

While Nader does not have a viable solution to the problem, neither do I, other than to try to awaken those who want to hear and preach the real basis of America's legal problems.

Gene Louis
Supporting a Needed Tool for Government Feedback:
A Citizen-Operated Legal System.

Like Ron Paul, many times Nader's too nice

Nader established many organizations to help the public.. Public Citizen is where we used to go to blow whistles and get legal help. He always attracted attorneys because many of his organizations hired attorneys..

I agree that the legal system has become a mob.. reminds me of an old cartoon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Am8mrtdKM5U

I Was A Member

I was a member of PIRG a while back. It was a great organization that was founded and operated by Ralph Nader. I always considered his public service in this area as being valuable. He is just a great guy.

Fast forward to the year 2013.

I now recognize that winning a few cases by well-meaning and charitable lawyers does not fix the overall problem of injustice.

The problem is the legal industry, which is a government sanctioned political arm of the voting majority. It is a mob that wrongly uses the guns of government to promote it's agenda, which includes ignoring the Bil of Rights when they do not fit their ideals.

As much as I commend him, there is one area that I do not agree with. Ralph Nader seems to promote the idea that a "good" version of big government is possible. He seems to believe that a "good" version of big government will result in "good" justice.

Gene Louis
Supporting a Needed Tool for Government Feedback:
A Citizen-Operated Legal System.

Well said

I worked with Nader on three elections in several states.

By 2004, I was getting the idea that "our" campaign was not exactly what I thought. He had convinced me to abandon the Libertarian party in 1992 (which I have no regrets) to become Independent (which at the time, I didn't realize that being an Indy meant I had no representation, just an opportunity to vote for what the other parties put on the ballot).

As we strived for open debates and ballot access, the dozens of laws suits we amassed in dozens of states (we lost all of them) got me to thinking that what we were actually doing (since like Ron Paul, we were censored in MSM) is we were helping the major parties through the courts, close the loop holes, so that no independent candidate would ever be able to have ballot access or participate in a debate.

And I agree with you about Nader being a great guy. He does listen well and takes the times to discuss issues. He is very close to being a political prophet, "crashing the party", "Only the super rich can save us". My favorite book is his, "Seventeen Tradtions". He gave me a full size Constitution and Bill of Rights, telling me when he gave them to me that the Bill of Rights is in grave danger and we need to do everything we can to keep it (1996).

My experience as a Ron Paul campaign volunteer was a cake walk by comparison to Nader's.. we were far more hurt by the Democrats than the rEVOLution was hurt by the GOP.

I think Nader hopes that a good version of big government could result in good justice, because his personal political experience seems to be damned if you do and damned if you don't, big or small, government is going to get you one way or another if you've got brains, talent and a soul.

Thank you for being one of those who worked with his organizations.. I don't know if you won any cases, but I'm sure you at least gave some folks hope, which is all that keeps one from passing through the gates of hell.


You can’t be a judge unless you are BAR member and you can’t practice in their courts unless you are a BAR member.

The term “BAR” is an acronym for British Accredited Registry. These snakes are in fact working for the Crown of England.

as a minarchist

and one who sees how terribly technical the legal procedural rules are - especially in Federal Courts but in most states as well - I think that licensing lawyers is a good thing for the time being. There are bigger injustices in the world. I've never seen a self-represented person who wasn't also a lawyer win a case or even get a half-way decent result in a litigated court matter. Never.

I mean, take a few high-profile cases as an example. The DOMA case that the Supremes just settled involved, among other things, throwing the California claimants out on their ear for failure to establish standing. And the infamous Orly (who I am not a fan of even remotely) gets shut down all the time because of technical legal rules; while she is not what I call an "experienced litigator" she IS a lawyer, and still look at what happens.

And what most people don't understand is how lawyers think. Everyone has a functioning brain, but lawyers think like lawyers all day long, every day, for years on end. That has an effect and makes them very effective, in comparison to an ordinary person who is armed with the legal rules and principles (which in and of itself almost never happens to begin with). I know that is an unpopular view on this board but a person who represents himself in court has a fool for a lawyer and a jackass for a client, to quote Abraham Lincoln.

Finally, if something affects you directly, you can't make the cold, strategic choices that need to be made to respond effectively in litigation. Even the lawyers I know don't handle their own cases usually, because they are too emotionally involved. I have even hired lawyers to represent myself when I realized I was too emotionally involved. If one's ass or money is on the line, it is tough to be professional, effective, cold and calculating while worrying about said ass, when you're in the moment.

On the other hand, some people do their own dentistry and repair their cars with bailing wire and duct tape and put plastic wrap over the missing windows. If you want the equivalent of that for your legal case, maybe you should have the right to be that stupid. But that is what it would be.

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."-- Albert Einstein

There is no such limit in the Constitution

Carl Miller points out in that Judges need a license to practice in Michigan.

There is a the requirement, but no license exists.

Michigan does have a lawyer'c club called a Bar Association. They have a membership test, that's all.

Free includes debt-free!

Rule of law

"What happens when the rule of law increasingly bows to the whims and violations of unaccountable public officials?"

This will always happen, even if everyone's intent is good.. it is the nature of the rule of law. For a thorough explanation, see the video,"If you were king" by Larken Rose: http://www.larkenrose.com/video/2139-if-you-were-king.html

After that warm up, you should buy his book, "The Most Dangerous Superstition", to explain further why it will always end up bad.