How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

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sardia
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How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby sardia » Sat Oct 31, 2015 3:13 pm UTC

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/01/busin ... .html?_r=0
Over the last few years, it has become increasingly difficult to apply for a credit card, use a cellphone, get cable or Internet service, or shop online without agreeing to private arbitration. The same applies to getting a job, renting a car or placing a relative in a nursing home. By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices. Some state judges have called the class-action bans a “get out of jail free” card, because it is nearly impossible for one individual to take on a corporation with vast resources. By banning class actions, companies have essentially disabled consumer challenges to practices like predatory lending, wage theft and discrimination, court records show.
“This is among the most profound shifts in our legal history,” William G. Young, a federal judge in Boston who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, said in an interview. “Ominously, business has a good chance of opting out of the legal system altogether and misbehaving without reproach.”

TLDR individual arbitration is short hand for banning class action lawsuits, which means you have a 99% chance of breaking any law a corporation wants so long as the damages are less than the amount a person is willing to sue individually for.

My favorite part is where the libertarian thinks class action lawsuits are for ambulance chasing lawyers...until he needs a class action lawsuit himself. Then all of a sudden, he's singing a very different tune about how awful corporations are and their nasty deceptive contracts.

Solutions are limited to Congressional action unless both Roberts, Scalia and Thomas all croak before another Republican hits the presidency. I suppose if we keep letting corporations screw everyone and anyone, eventually enough poor Republicans will get hit that they'll eventually change their minds.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:58 pm UTC

Pretty much, the little guy is screwed regardless. Class action lawsuits usually DO mostly benefit the lawyers. I've actually sat down and read a few of these that I've apparently been the beneficiary on. Piles and piles of money. What does the end consumer get? Well, something trivial, usually. Like a coupon for more of the products of the shifty manufacturer. Great. The lawyers get paid in cash, of course.

I've never bothered to even return the paperwork for that.

And of course, class action lawsuits cover liability so that individuals can't later sue. My grandpa, for instance, got a $3k class action lawsuit payoff for a shitton of intentional asbestos exposure. No way for him or his descendents to sue later when, yknow, he died from the results. Sure, sure, if you know the law, and you're aware of the class action lawsuit at the time, there's generally a short window when you can get yourself exempted with the proper paperwork. Most people are not lawyers, and in practice, this mostly ends up screwing them.

Arbitration, of course, ALSO screws them.

Bluntly, it's too expensive and impractical for the average person to get justice, regardless of the means available.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby cphite » Mon Nov 02, 2015 3:50 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Pretty much, the little guy is screwed regardless. Class action lawsuits usually DO mostly benefit the lawyers. I've actually sat down and read a few of these that I've apparently been the beneficiary on. Piles and piles of money. What does the end consumer get? Well, something trivial, usually. Like a coupon for more of the products of the shifty manufacturer. Great. The lawyers get paid in cash, of course.


I was part of a class action suit against GM back around 2000 regarding the brakes on my Chevy Lumina; I believe they settled for something like $20,000,000... My share amounted to around $17.00

So yeah, not a whole lotta justice from my perspective :/

I've never bothered to even return the paperwork for that.


Meh. I guess it's all a matter of perspective. Two minutes to fill out a form and 49 cents for a stamp; with a $17 return. Still worth it.

And of course, class action lawsuits cover liability so that individuals can't later sue. My grandpa, for instance, got a $3k class action lawsuit payoff for a shitton of intentional asbestos exposure. No way for him or his descendents to sue later when, yknow, he died from the results. Sure, sure, if you know the law, and you're aware of the class action lawsuit at the time, there's generally a short window when you can get yourself exempted with the proper paperwork. Most people are not lawyers, and in practice, this mostly ends up screwing them.


This is why there is a special place in hell for lawyers.

Arbitration, of course, ALSO screws them.


By design.

Bluntly, it's too expensive and impractical for the average person to get justice, regardless of the means available.


Are you suggesting the peasantry be under the same law as the noble class? Outrageous!

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:06 pm UTC

cphite wrote:
I've never bothered to even return the paperwork for that.


Meh. I guess it's all a matter of perspective. Two minutes to fill out a form and 49 cents for a stamp; with a $17 return. Still worth it.


I've not had one that's been as much as $17, I think. I suppose there's a point at which the form filling is worthwhile, but my perception of them is that they're usually pretty trivial by the time it gets down to the end consumer.

I also think that class action lawsuits, by design, make risk of being sued fairly consistent and baked in for the manufacturer, allowing them to easily do Fight Club math while determining if things are worth fixing or not. With individual lawsuits, there's a vastly higher potential ceiling, but class action suits are going to be fairly predictable.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby mcd001 » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:47 pm UTC

Just make the loser pay the legal expenses for both sides. We'd see drastic reductions in trivial lawsuits, and the need for arbitration (which was originally a way to give people a lower-cost venue to pursue claims) would diminish as well.

Of course, lawyers would lose out on millions of dollars if 'loser-pays' was ever implemented, so I'm pretty sure it will never happen.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby Choboman » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:15 pm UTC

Making the loser pay legal fees would backfire on any individual trying to sue a corporation, and scare off any potential litigants. Odds are he'll lose, and he'll end up getting stuck with the $2M legal bill the corp paid to fill their side of the courtroom with lawyers.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:18 pm UTC

Choboman wrote:Making the loser pay legal fees would backfire on any individual trying to sue a corporation, and scare off any potential litigants. Odds are he'll lose, and he'll end up getting stuck with the $2M legal bill the corp paid to fill their side of the courtroom with lawyers.


You've got it.

Companies paying the legal fees of Joe Blow isn't terribly intimidating.

Me paying for the crack legal team of the corporation with billions to spend is intimidating as hell.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby sardia » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:03 pm UTC

Tyndmyr, is it better for a company to get away with damages because the majority of fines go to lawyers as you claim?

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby morriswalters » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:11 pm UTC

This isn't just about class action law suits. Would anyone be happy if their surgeons corporate shell placed an arbitration clause in the documents you are required to sign before surgery? Or if the hospital does before it admits you?

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby wumpus » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:21 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:This isn't just about class action law suits. Would anyone be happy if their surgeons corporate shell placed an arbitration clause in the documents you are required to sign before surgery? Or if the hospital does before it admits you?


There was at least one lawsuit over a dentist requiring favorable views on social media. Grifters love writing insane contracts, sometimes it works.

I'm pretty sure Hooters would never have existed without such laws, it pretty much legalizes a "hostile work enviornment". On the other hand, I'm not sure if I ever signed such an agreement to work in Maryland (I remember signing one in Virginia).

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:45 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Tyndmyr, is it better for a company to get away with damages because the majority of fines go to lawyers as you claim?


They mostly are getting away with it regardless. They do pretty alright regardless of method.

I am not so interested in the companies as I am in finding a way that doesn't screw over the victims quite so much.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby sardia » Tue Nov 03, 2015 4:54 am UTC

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/busin ... f-law.html
Guess what, religious organizations are corporations too. So instead of court, you get to argue via religious scripture. Of course it is presided over by a guy who was sanctioned by the religion you're having a dispute with. But I'm sure they'll be neutral and fair right?
Spoiler:
Scientology moved to force Mr. Garcia’s case into arbitration. The process seemed like a farce, he said. An arbitration run by a panel of Scientologists, his lawyers argued, could not possibly be impartial. As a declared suppressive, Mr. Garcia was considered a pariah. Church members who interacted with him risked being harassed, according to court papers filed by his lawyers.
“The hostility of any Scientologists on that panel is not speculation,” his lawyers argued. “It is church doctrine.”
A church official testified that the panel would be instructed to act fairly. In a statement, a lawyer for the church said that even though Scientology had never conducted an arbitration, the church had a set of procedures it used to resolve disputes with members.
In his decision, Judge James D. Whittemore of Federal District Court in Tampa said the Garcias were bound by the terms of the contract they had signed with the church. While acknowledging that Mr. Garcia may have a “compelling” argument about the potential bias of the process, Judge Whittemore said the First Amendment prevented him from even considering the issue.
“It necessarily would require an analysis and interpretation of Scientology doctrine,” wrote Judge Whittemore, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton. “That would constitute a prohibited intrusion into religious doctrine, discipline, faith and ecclesiastical rule, custom or law by the court.”
Mr. Garcia said he was still deciding whether to go through with arbitration.
Judge Whittemore’s ruling has also been a blow to the network of former Scientologists who have spoken out against the church.
“I do not understand why the courts are going along with it,” Mr. Schippers said.
Mr. Garcia’s lawyer, Theodore Babbitt, said the ruling might have scuttled many future lawsuits against the church. “Arbitration,” Mr. Babbitt said, “is inoculating the Church of Scientology from liability.”
“I do not understand why the courts are going along with it,” Mr. Schippers said.
Mr. Garcia’s lawyer, Theodore Babbitt, said the ruling might have scuttled many future lawsuits against the church. “Arbitration,” Mr. Babbitt said, “is inoculating the Church of Scientology from liability.”
Yup, how dare those filthy lawyers get paid part of the damages that religious corporations inflict. We should let the victims stew a bit longer while we figure out a way to make lawyers work for free.

I don't understand how you reconcile "companies get away with crimes regardless" and class action lawsuits, which companies oppose for some 'mysterious' reason, are the devil. There's a reason why companies prefer arbitration to courts, and individual lawsuits over class action ones. They have an advantage when they get their way, we shouldn't be giving it to them freely.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby cphite » Tue Nov 03, 2015 3:54 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Yup, how dare those filthy lawyers get paid part of the damages that religious corporations inflict. We should let the victims stew a bit longer while we figure out a way to make lawyers work for free.


I don't think anyone is objecting to the idea of lawyers getting paid part of the damages in these cases; what people generally object to is lawyers getting the vast majority of the damages in these cases. People object to a small team of lawyers walking away with millions, while the people who've actually suffered damage walk away with a pittance.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby eran_rathan » Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:06 am UTC

My law professor (who, btw, was also a lawyer) said that really, in order to get by in the courtroom you only need to know two things:

1. Its better to know the judge than the law,
and 2. You get just as much justice as you can afford, and no more.
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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby sardia » Wed Nov 04, 2015 5:36 am UTC

eran_rathan wrote:My law professor (who, btw, was also a lawyer) said that really, in order to get by in the courtroom you only need to know two things:

1. Its better to know the judge than the law,
and 2. You get just as much justice as you can afford, and no more.

What does 1 even mean? Like I can think of a couple things he's referring to, but unless you know as well, it's pretty pointless to say. Your professor must think really poorly of his class if that's the only thing he bothered to tell you.

Cphite, how does a lawyer getting paid a large amount of a risky lawsuit have to do with class action lawsuits (the lack thereof) or arbitration, which has no lawyers that you deem so dreadful. Surely you aren't claiming that arbitration is the better way?

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby eran_rathan » Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:03 pm UTC

It means that the judge is going to be more favorable to your side if you know the judge personally in some capacity - socially, professionally, your kids go to the same school, etc. Any time you get into a courtroom and the judge smiles and waves to the other lawyer, you've pretty much already lost.

And yes, judges should recuse themselves in cases like that - but they don't.

(And its more that he thinks poorly of the 'justice' system in the U.S., rather than his class - its why he teaches instead of practicing law, after all).
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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby sardia » Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:15 pm UTC

Being social with a judge is a waste of time. I thought you were referring to judges who are bribed err solicit campaign donations. Or shopping around for a judge that has opinions that match your clients. Ie hate immigrants? Go declare your case in front of the judge in Texas, not the one in Massachusetts.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby cphite » Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:16 pm UTC

sardia wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:My law professor (who, btw, was also a lawyer) said that really, in order to get by in the courtroom you only need to know two things:

1. Its better to know the judge than the law,
and 2. You get just as much justice as you can afford, and no more.

What does 1 even mean? Like I can think of a couple things he's referring to, but unless you know as well, it's pretty pointless to say.


It means exactly what he said. Personal relationships count for a lot more than they should.

Your professor must think really poorly of his class if that's the only thing he bothered to tell you.


Where does he say that that was the only thing his professor ever told him?

Cphite, how does a lawyer getting paid a large amount of a risky lawsuit have to do with class action lawsuits (the lack thereof) or arbitration, which has no lawyers that you deem so dreadful. Surely you aren't claiming that arbitration is the better way?


I was responding specifically to "Yup, how dare those filthy lawyers get paid part of the damages that religious corporations inflict. We should let the victims stew a bit longer while we figure out a way to make lawyers work for free."

As for the "better way"... the whole system is setup to benefit the corporations and the lawyers; the actual victims tend to get scraps regardless of the process.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby eran_rathan » Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:16 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Being social with a judge is a waste of time. I thought you were referring to judges who are bribed err solicit campaign donations. Or shopping around for a judge that has opinions that match your clients. Ie hate immigrants? Go declare your case in front of the judge in Texas, not the one in Massachusetts.


yep, that too.


btw, electing judges? Where the fuck does that come from? Who thought it was a good idea to make judges politicians?
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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby cphite » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:57 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:btw, electing judges? Where the fuck does that come from? Who thought it was a good idea to make judges politicians?


People who thought that they, as citizens, ought to have some say in who holds that level of authority in their own district.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby eran_rathan » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:28 pm UTC

cphite wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:btw, electing judges? Where the fuck does that come from? Who thought it was a good idea to make judges politicians?


People who thought that they, as citizens, ought to have some say in who holds that level of authority in their own district.


Silly me, I always thought that justice ought to be impartial and not beholden to campaign contributors, and that the bench should instead go to people who demonstrate good judgement and legal sense.

But that does re-emphasize my statement about better to know the judge than the law, especially when you know they can be bought.
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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby Mutex » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:56 pm UTC

And you'd better not be on trial for something the judge feels the need to appear tough on, knowing elections are coming soon.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby sardia » Thu Nov 05, 2015 5:53 am UTC

Mutex wrote:And you'd better not be on trial for something the judge feels the need to appear tough on, knowing elections are coming soon.

This is a much worse problem than judges being bought. We can regulate judges from soliciting donations while they're in session or whatever. It's much harder to regulate away the "hard on crime" position because the judge unconsciously fears losing his job. So yea, electing judges does make them more responsive to the citizens...except what the citizens want is often unconstitutional and immoral. Precedents and regulations(bill of rights etc etc) help, but it's not enough to solve the problem by itself. The electorate needs to change, or the institution needs to change.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby elasto » Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:22 am UTC

Exactly. Democracy is merely the least worst form of government; It is still riddled with flaws - the most famous of which being 'the tyranny of the majority'.

Democracy needs checks and balances no less than any other system - and one such valid mechanism is an independent judiciary - appointed on technical merit and answerable only to its (hopefully lofty) founding principles, not political and populist winds.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby Chen » Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:39 pm UTC

Wait judges are elected in the US? That's not a common thing elsewhere is it?

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby Dauric » Thu Nov 05, 2015 2:14 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Wait judges are elected in the US? That's not a common thing elsewhere is it?

Actually it varies from district to district. In some cases it's set by state law, in others it's decided by municipality.
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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby cphite » Thu Nov 05, 2015 6:15 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:
cphite wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:btw, electing judges? Where the fuck does that come from? Who thought it was a good idea to make judges politicians?


People who thought that they, as citizens, ought to have some say in who holds that level of authority in their own district.


Silly me, I always thought that justice ought to be impartial and not beholden to campaign contributors, and that the bench should instead go to people who demonstrate good judgement and legal sense.


You'd rather they be beholden to the politicians who appoint them? Also, good judgement and legal sense aren't guaranteed because a judge has been appointed. You're basically saying that instead of letting the people decide, some of whom may have an agenda - you'd rather let a few individuals decide, most of whom will have an agenda.

But that does re-emphasize my statement about better to know the judge than the law, especially when you know they can be bought.


Sure, they can be bought. Just like legislators can be bought, executives can be bought, and so on down the line. Giving the common person less control over who gets or keeps positions of power isn't the best solution to that.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby eran_rathan » Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:55 pm UTC

cphite wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:
cphite wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:btw, electing judges? Where the fuck does that come from? Who thought it was a good idea to make judges politicians?


People who thought that they, as citizens, ought to have some say in who holds that level of authority in their own district.


Silly me, I always thought that justice ought to be impartial and not beholden to campaign contributors, and that the bench should instead go to people who demonstrate good judgement and legal sense.


You'd rather they be beholden to the politicians who appoint them? Also, good judgement and legal sense aren't guaranteed because a judge has been appointed. You're basically saying that instead of letting the people decide, some of whom may have an agenda - you'd rather let a few individuals decide, most of whom will have an agenda.


Considering it is good enough for the Supreme Court (regardless of the occasional hiccups, like Alito who it seems sometimes has never actually read the Constitution), I think on balance that having a judge appointed by an executive & confirmed by an adversarial legislative body is a better system than having them win a popularity contest, yes.

Imagine if you will for a moment that we had elections for Supreme Court Justices.

Now (to add to the horror) imagine someone like Trump or Carson running for SCOTUS.
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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby elasto » Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:30 am UTC

The best method is to take politicians out of the picture altogether and have judges appointed purely on technical merit by an independent body - which is how the UK does it.

Under the Constitutional Reform Act, Parliament gave the Judicial Appointments Commission the following statutory duties:

- to select candidates solely on merit;
- to select only people of good character; and
- to have regard to the need to encourage diversity in the range of persons available for judicial selection.


Sure, such a body could become corrupt and pursue a personal agenda, but there's always the nuclear option of taking the power to appoint away from them, so ultimately they are still democratically accountable. In the case of the UK, I think the politician also has to sign off on their choices, but I think it's mostly a rubber-stamping exercise.

But voting for judges makes as much sense to me as voting who should run a nuclear power plant. Just appoint the best qualified candidate like you would for any other highly technical, highly skilled position.

+1 to Meritocracy.

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby Diadem » Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:36 am UTC

I'm actually not sure how judges are appointed in The Netherlands, but it's certainly not a political process.

* looks it up *

Looks like to become a judge over here you first need to get a law degree, then you need 2 years of professional experience and then you can enter a 4 year program that's part education and part working-under-supervision. Final appointment is 'by the king' which means by a cabinet minister (the king gets to sign, but he gets no say in what he signs). So theoretically it is a political appointment, but it's really an appointment by peers. A judge is appointed for life, though there is mandatory retirement at 70. Supreme court appointments seem to work slightly differently. The supreme court itself selects candidates, and gives a recommendation to parliament, which makes the final appointment.

I'm perpetually somewhat surprised how well the Dutch system works. There seem to be very little checks and balances, and the whole system seems almost designed to give all power to a small elite. Add to this that the stereotypical law student actually is the rich privileged kid from an upper class family, who gets by not on skill but on having the right connections, and you'd expect the system to be a giant clusterfuck. Yet somehow as far as I can tell it seems to work pretty well. The judiciary seems to do quite well in keeping their independence, and doesn't seem afraid to inconvenience the executive.

Perhaps judges simply do not make enough money to be an interesting career choice for the privileged elite, while being too difficult a career for the truly untalented.

And to be fair, the Netherlands is not without its share of judicial blunders. But on average the competence of judges seems to be acceptable, and the judiciary does seem to be independent.

So another +1 for meritocracy.
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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby cphite » Fri Nov 06, 2015 2:58 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:
cphite wrote:You'd rather they be beholden to the politicians who appoint them? Also, good judgement and legal sense aren't guaranteed because a judge has been appointed. You're basically saying that instead of letting the people decide, some of whom may have an agenda - you'd rather let a few individuals decide, most of whom will have an agenda.


Considering it is good enough for the Supreme Court (regardless of the occasional hiccups, like Alito who it seems sometimes has never actually read the Constitution), I think on balance that having a judge appointed by an executive & confirmed by an adversarial legislative body is a better system than having them win a popularity contest, yes.


And as a result we have judges who's rulings can be predicted in advance along party lines to a degree where it's almost a formality to even have them rule at all in most cases. Indeed, it's gotten to the point where one of the biggest questions about a presidential candidate is who they would appoint, because it's that much of a slam dunk for their party's agenda.

Imagine if you will for a moment that we had elections for Supreme Court Justices.


I don't see it being much worse.

Now (to add to the horror) imagine someone like Trump or Carson running for SCOTUS.


Or *shudder* Obama!

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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby wumpus » Fri Nov 06, 2015 4:07 pm UTC

Choboman wrote:Making the loser pay legal fees would backfire on any individual trying to sue a corporation, and scare off any potential litigants. Odds are he'll lose, and he'll end up getting stuck with the $2M legal bill the corp paid to fill their side of the courtroom with lawyers.


You could say the same about a mere citizen suing a corporation. On the other hand, there are contigency fees. All this assumes that the lawyer who can afford to work on contigency can't afford another set of legal fees and/or doesn't think the suit has sufficient merit to risk it.

You should really wonder about the American "justice" system when the ability to shove massive law fees on a defendant regardless of a lawsuit's merit is considered a positive.

wumpus
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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby wumpus » Fri Nov 06, 2015 4:14 pm UTC

cphite wrote:[deleted]
Sure, they can be bought. Just like legislators can be bought, executives can be bought, and so on down the line. Giving the common person less control over who gets or keeps positions of power isn't the best solution to that.


Thanks to Citizen's United, it isn't that judges *can* be bought, it considered unconstitutional to prevent them in any way from being bought. I'm also wondering how aware the typical voter is of a judges record.

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sardia
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Re: How Arbitration Stacks Justice to Corporations

Postby sardia » Fri May 27, 2016 5:23 am UTC

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/27/busin ... f=business
Good news, the Chicago Appeals court just overturned arbitration. What it really means is SCOTUS now has another chance to revisit arbitration usage. Very exciting now that Scalia is dead.
A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that companies cannot force their employees to sign away their right to band together in legal actions, delivering a major victory for American workers and opening an opportunity for the Supreme Court to weigh in.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago struck down an arbitration clause that banned employees from joining together as a class and required workers to battle the employer one by one outside of court.
In its opinion, the three-judge panel said that Epic Systems, a Verona, Wis., health care software provider, violated federal labor law when it required its workers to bring any disputes individually to arbitration, a private system of justice where there is no judge or jury.
“The increasing use of mandatory arbitration agreements and the prohibition on workers proceeding as a class has been one of the most major developments in employment the last decade,” said Benjamin Sachs, a professor of labor law at Harvard Law School. “Most of the court decisions have facilitated this development. This is a major move in the opposite direction.”


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