The Other Side of Our Judicial System – Civil Law

The Criminal Justice System

In recent years many people have taken note of the US lead in incarceration in all its racist wonder. Our nearest competitor, Russia, lags by 40% while our competitor cohort, Germany, France, Japan, and so on, incarcerate a mere 1/10 or less of our world-leading rate. The fraud of this system as a system of equal justice for all is demonstrated by the fact that in Federal criminal actions over 95% of the cases are settled by plea bargains; there is no trial, just summary action by prosecutors. The state criminal systems have a similar pattern where prosecutors run up the charges against defendants knowing that over 90% of the cases will never go to trial and they can put defendants in jail because they have no functioning or merely inadequate representation.


The Other Judicial System – Civil Law

This is the realm of contracts and finance. Here we see corporations and the wealthy spending billions of dollars lobbying every year to write the laws that “regulate” their behaviors resulting in laws and regulations that fundamentally aid and abet their accumulation of wealth to the detriment of the vast majority. Then, laws and regulations in hand, they can afford to hire the expensive services of posh law firms to write the contracts and perform the litigation that enforce their position on the economic gravy train. That is especially true for the very rich and the large corporations who benefit the most from the manipulations and shenanigans that drive our financial institutions.

The rich and corporations use civil law to bully small companies and individuals.

Landlords use the civil law system to harass and evict tenants, most of who cannot afford a lawyer to defend themselves.

Corporations use their power to extract wealth from our system of patents, trademarks, and copyright.


“Yet available data shows that only 3 percent of tenants have legal representation when facing eviction proceedings, compared to over 80 percent of landlords. This is unsurprising because where there is no right to counsel, the available assistance is limited primarily to heavily underfunded legal aid programs. The disempowerment and bewilderment felt by unrepresented tenants navigating a complex legal system helps explain the high percentage of tenants who do not respond to the eviction complaint or appear in court, which is around 50 percent in most places and as high as 79 percent in some.”1

For more on evictions read Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Penguin Books, 2016).

Debt Collection

“From 1993 to 2013, the number of debt collection suits more than doubled nationwide, from less than 1.7 million to about 4 million, and consumed a growing share of civil dockets, rising from an estimated 1 in 9 civil cases to 1 in 4…..In Texas, the only state for which comprehensive statewide data are available, debt claims more than doubled from 2014 to 2018, accounting for 30 percent of the state’s civil caseload by the end of that five-year period….

Research on debt collection lawsuits from 2010 to 2019 has shown that less than 10 percent of defendants have counsel, compared with nearly all plaintiffs. According to studies in multiple jurisdictions, consumers with legal representation in a debt claim are more likely to win their case outright or reach a mutually agreed settlement with the plaintiff.”2

Forced Arbitration Combined With No Class Action Suits

Many contracts between consumers and businesses include a clause requiring that disputes be settled before a 3rd party arbitrator. In addition, consumers are forbidden by these contracts from bringing suit in civil court or participating in a group lawsuit. This means that disputes are settled in front of an arbitrator chosen and paid for by the business. Further, this makes the dispute entirely private, closing off any public revelations of a business’s practices.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act specifically called for reforms of these practices. Shortly after the Consumer Financial Protection Board finally issued rules in 2017 to implement reforms, Congress and Trump revoked them, much to the applause of criminal banks like Wells Fargo, which was seeking a private haven from their millions of fraudulent consumer accounts.