Partners In Crime: Brit and American Lawyers

Brit legal activism against Israel highlights the Anglo weakness of out-of-control lawyers and judges. Brit lawyers and judges seek political gain, while US trial lawyers just want money. They are both unintended consequences of our freedoms.

Here’s the latest nonsense:

Scotland Yard was thwarted yesterday in its attempt to seize a former senior Israeli army officer at Heathrow airport for alleged war crimes in occupied Palestinian lands after a British judge had issued a warrant for his arrest.

The warrant alleges Mr Almog committed war crimes in the Gaza Strip in 2002 when he ordered the destruction of 59 homes near Rafah, which Palestinians say was in revenge for the death of Israeli soldiers. The warrant was issued by senior district judge Timothy Workman after an application by lawyers acting for Mr Almog’s alleged Palestinian victims.

The warrant was requested by an Israeli Palestinian activist – see the less nutty comments in the LGF coverage.

In fact the guy was on Brit soil once the plane landed, but I’m guessing that London’s finest tipped him off – they know muslim terror at first hand. Plus, El Al has heavily armed on-board security, so getting on the plane might have been messy.

So, no harm done, except to the judge, complainant and his lawyers who must now be careful where they take their vacations.

This activism is part of a pattern. The Brit Spectator (registration required) has horror stories from the court that hears asylum-seekers seeking to overturn Brit government deportation orders.

The asylum courts are scrupulously fair to those making claims. The standard of proof required for a successful claim is surprisingly low; it is lower than the ‘balance of probabilities’ required in civil cases. The claimant’s story does not even have to be plausible. All that is necessary is that it should not be ‘manifestly incredible’.

In recent weeks, for instance, a court… heard from a young Chinese woman who could not explain how she had arrived in England; she only knew she was fleeing persecution on account of her chosen religion in China. She swore she was a Catholic. The Home Office had turned down her request for asylum, asserting that Catholics are not a persecuted group in China.

She appealed. The adjudicator in her appeal was curious to find out how deep her commitment to Catholicism was. How long, she was asked, had she been a Catholic? ‘Two weeks’ was the reply. Who is Jesus Christ? asked the judge. ‘I don’t know.’ What is the Bible? ‘I don’t know.’ What are the central doctrines of Christianity? ‘I don’t know.’

That woman’s claim was certainly incredible. She was not, however, deported, or even detained. She was solemnly told that the judge would reach a decision on her appeal in the forthcoming week. She did not wait for that decision: she disappeared…

The same obsession with “rights” prevents Brits deporting terror sponsors:

Our judiciary is not only constrained by a Human Rights Act that enshrines the convention in law, but also gives every impression of thoroughly agreeing with Strasbourg’s strict interpretation of the convention. (France, in contrast, hands much less power to its judges, cheerfully deporting mad imams before they launch appeals on humanitarian grounds.)

All of these stem from the Brits’ love of Fair Play and The Underdog. However, American readers should not be depressed – when necessary, the Brits become as violent as the situation warrants, as the Germans and Japanese of the WW2 generation can testify.

Oddly, Brits don’t have the equivalent of American trial lawyer shakedowns. The latter are at least as damaging as Civil Liberty exploitation, having driven many good companies out of existence and pouring each year a substantial percentage of the US GNP into lawyers’ pockets.

In one case I reviewed recently, the judge had to decide if a full trial was necessary of a complaint by a law firm that is under Federal investigation for witness bribery.

The law firm provided anonymous witness statements.

The judge ruled that the defendants were not allowed to know who the witnesses were, to challenge their claims or to provide any statements of fact.

The judge sent the case to trial on the basis of a misquotation of a witness statement.

The defendants are now in a lose/lose situation. They can carry the huge cost of fighting the case (in front of the same incompetent or corrupt judge), knowing that if they win they can’t get their costs back – if you successfully defend yourself against a claim in the US, you can’t claim costs. Or they may lose if the judge gets creative again. Or they can just pay off the lawyers.

To his great credit, the president is trying to limit this abuse, but he’s having to fight every step of the way.

My conclusion? Anglo societies place a huge premium on human freedom, and that has unintended consequences. I think the freedom is worth the consequences. Just.

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