"A statewide report, however, showed 80 percent of low-income individuals in Washington facing a critical legal need do so without legal assistance each year."Stanley A. Bastian, President WSBA (December 7th, 2007)
While over 80 percent of the modest-income civil parties have no meaningful access to the courts, more and more Washingtonians are distrustful of the legal system. We need to concert among ourselves and give back our legal system to all Americans, not just those who can afford 200 to 300 dollars an hour. Thus, the next constitutional right from which all Washingtonians should benefit if civic and personal freedoms are to be priorities is our basic right to equal and meaningful access to civil justice and the courts, which means, for civil parties who cannot afford the costs of Justice (from the no and low income to the mid income groups), the State would have to provide, via public expense, like it does for criminal indigents, a free attorney, free court fees and free execution of the decision fees.
Secondarily, better public legal libraries and free public and civic pro se (self-representation) training work-shops on civil procedure, tort law, family law and the like is also needed so that the State can save funds on behalf of those non professionals who decide to be their own litigator, while promoting the principle of "enlightened self-sovereignty". Moreover, internationally recognized legal standards require the respect of this birth-right. As do our two Constitutions. (See homepage). And the Judiciary system is in need of massive financing and restructuring.
MEASURE 1 . CIVIL PUBLIC EXPENDITURE LAW FOR THE NEEDY AND A PRE-LEGAL ASSISTANCE INSURANCE SCHEME FOR THE MID-INCOME PARTIES. A civil legal aid law for all the needy is needed. Without which the constitutional right to equal access to justice is denied. This measure should be paid by the State and-or by the financially more secure beneficiaries through an insurance scheme such as the pre-legal assistance insurance structure. With this system, the State may not need to get deeply financially involved with the mid-income parties. But for the no and low income parties, the State and its courts should conform to the international and constitutional exigencies of canonic fairness.
MEASURE 2: THE PROMOTION OF CIVIC “LIGHTHOUSE” CLINICS. Legislation to promote civic and human rights light-house (or enlightenment) centers to be established first in each of our 39 counties and then, after a trial period, in each town and enlivened with art, music, education on human rights and duties, equal access to justice and civil law training workshops, minorities rights seminars and everything else that will help Washingtonians to be free from the chains of ignorance and predatory abuse.
MEASURE 3 . GENERAL APPROPRIATION OF FUNDS FOR THE JUDICIARY. Increased appropriation of public funds to modernize and increase the number of judges, bailiffs, courtrooms, pro se legal libraries and pro se training workshops and attorney civil rights training.
MEASURE 4. BILL TO SIMPLIFY LEGAL JARGON. Proposal to simplify legal jargon, to make legal English more accessible and intelligible so that those not trained in law understand what to do. And what not to do, legally speaking.
MEASURE 5 . FREE LEGAL COUNSELING IN ALL COURTS. Legal counseling needs to be available as a public service in all Courts. Via public service attorneys or trained non attorneys. Which means the Statute that forbids the giving of legal information and advise by someone who is not an attorney to legally uneducated parties needs to be repealed and replaced by a law which allows general legal counselors to give legal information and general but "neutral" advise. Knowledge can save lives and be an "equalizer".
MEASURE 6 . DEMOCRATICALLY COMPOSED LEGAL ETHICS COMMITTEES. The restructuring of legal ethics committees with new rules relative to their composition. In this perspective, 50 percent attorney and-or judges with the proposed 50 percent citizens (as opposed to having only attorneys and-or judges reviewing ethical behavior of fellow attorneys and-or judges).
MEASURE 7 . TORT LAW REFORM . Tort law reform to better assist the People’s needs and health. There should be a reasonable civil damage cap, except on suffering (as it is now) and except on punitive damage (as it is not presently), which should be recognized in this State. At 300 dollars an hour, too many trial lawyers are abusing our legal system and turning it into "jackpot justice ". Over $163 billion is paid each year in damages and lawyers' fees related to tort lawsuits. While some of those awards are justified, others are excessive. A reasonable cap may be necessary, (to be democratically discussed), that which may bring down insurance premium (and the client’s costs), especially in the medical field.
MEASURE 8 . PRO SE LENIENCY AND ACCESS NORMS. Promotion of pro se leniency rules and a direct and prompt pro se oral access to the Courts for rapid resolution of the case, as was done in the ancient Greek system.
MEASURE 9. MOTIVATION OF JUDICIAL ORDERS, JURY NULLIFICATION WARNINGS, ORAL HEARINGS AND BETTER RESPECT OF INTERNATIONAL NORMS: Obligation for judges to motivate (give reasons) to all of their orders (too many cases are ended with either an expeditive "dismissed' "granted" or a "denied" order, without any explanation). Obligation to better respect the jury nullification option. Obligation to better respect parties' rights to oral hearings and prompt jury trials. Obligation to better deal with the unconstitutionality of State statutes. Obligation for Judges to pay heed to international and federal customary law, international human rights law and Treaties (those ratified by the US Senate) as being part of the "supreme law of the land" (Article 6 of the US Constitution).
MEASURE 10. PRO BONO AND UNBUNDLING ATTORNEY SERVICES AND BETTER TRAINING OF ATTORNEYS AND JUDGES ON INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED HUMAN RGHTS LAWS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS. Legislation in favor of more pro bono and unbundling attorney services. And legislation to better train judges and attorneys in internationally recognized human rights law, civic rights education and personal and fundamental freedoms.
MEASURE 11 . CONTINGENCY FEE CONTRACTS ON COSTS. Also, in a contingency fee agreement, a party should not be obliged to sign that he or she will pay all costs in case of loss. This option should be left to be negotiated freely.
MEASURE 12 . IMPLEMENTATION OF RECUSATION IN JUDICARY CONFLICTS OF INTERESTS . The prohibition for judges to hear a case whose party has financed that judge's electoral campaign should be obligatory and implemented (e.g. Olympia’s Supreme Court Justice Johnson heard and determined the case of a building company notwithstanding the public fact that this company massively contributed in the Justice’s financial campaign (hundreds of thousands of dollars).
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