I do not know enough to speak intelligently about legal matters, but, as an entrepreneur who engaged the legal system pro se (here ya go), I’d like to point out some “inefficiencies”, offer some solutions, and begin discussing my future role with respect to the judicial system.
At the end of the day, I am very happy that the JoVE dispute has happened, for it made me aware that not all is well with our judicial system and the streets are, in fact, not paved with cheese. How so?
- Inefficient Process – why was I filing paper rather than uploading PDFs? Why was there no online archive? Why did I have to do so much printing? Why couldn’t I reference prior pleadings and had to reprint them?
- Access to Documents – why was it difficult to find relevant cases and to read the pleadings themselves (instead of opinions)? I’ve put resources that I found on Wiki-Law: Resources. If difference in access to information affects outcomes, wouldn’t such a difference violate the 14th amendment? And I quote (emphasis mine):
”No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
- Time – litigation takes an immense amount of time. Most issues are simple. Why such delays?
- Attorney Cost – attorneys cost a ridiculous amount without the service provided coming even close to matching in value. Symptom of a major problem.
- Access to Legal Advice – how is it that I couldn’t get advice on simple issues without being charged hundreds of dollars per hour or as a pro-bono “favor”? Legal advice seems to be fundamental and should not be dependent on charity.
- Corrupt/Incompetent Judges – the only two ways that I can describe Judge Dennis J. Curran and Judge Kimberly Budd is either as corrupt or incompetent. While I understand that there is an appeals process, the fact that judges can be so brazen in their violations of common law, rules of civil procedure, treatment of pro se litigant, and the Constitution is a major problem.
Despite all the shortcomings, the US system is still better than what is in place in USSR Russia (Khodorkovsky anyone?), so please don’t misunderstand – my position is not a plain disgruntled “this sucks”. It is of the “this sucks, let’s see how we can improve” sort.
So how can we improve the legal system?
- Full Transparency – all activity should be brought online to make it easier to digest, reference, learn from, and engage additional talent for review/advice/oversight purposes.
- Low-Cost Services – there should be a number of low-cost services for advice, research, etc. The challenge with “one provider” + “fee” model is that incentives are messed up: lawyers get paid when there is conflict, so they perpetuate it. Here is an option: there should always be two providers giving answers with the customers rating said answers against each other. The providers get paid according to their ratings. Uber for law?
- Internal review – from the very beginning, there should be a clear path for internal review and judges should always have to articulate their reasoning. Lazy, corrupt, and incompetent judges should face immediate consequences.
I completely agree with Sarah Reed in her TechCrunch article: Lawyer, Disrupt Thyself. Time for some disruption.
Some specific steps I am considering once I regain liquidity:
- Low-Cost Services: Start a company/service that provides low-cost research/assistance services to litigants.
- Watchdog: Start a service that would also monitor judicial proceedings and join forces with pro se litigants to keep judges honest.
- Basecamp for the Judicial System: Start a company that would implement a project-management system for judicial processes to make it easier for litigants to draft, file, manage, and collaborate on cases.
- Wiki-Law and Similar: continue with Wiki-Law.com and support similar initiatives that organize information so as to make it more accessible. BTW, if anyone wants to sponsor Wiki-Law, please let me know – it keeps going down because it’s on the Micro server on AWS.
Changing the judicial “guild” from the inside would be too hard – as most self-serving bureaucracies go, they will dig in their heels under any pressure. So seems like the way to go is in providing external services to that would force the system to adopt and become more efficient (saving boatloads of taxpayer money in the process).