Top Reforms Needed In The Legal Profession
The legal profession is constantly subject to review, scrutiny, and reform. The purpose of these efforts is to ensure that the law is available and accessible to individuals and the system of justice protects the rights of the innocent over those who are guilty or in violation of the law. Moreover, legal reforms are necessary to prevent those within the system from abuses that corrupt the delivery of justice and prevent people from fair and equitable access.
Often we hear the words legal reform in terms of the system of corporate liability and tort reform. Although tort reform is a popular topic among reformers of the legal profession, it is not the only area that is in need of redress. Other areas of the law that are being looked at by jurists, academics, and legislators include immigration law reform, drug law reform, and judicial reform. Each will be discussed fully below.
Immigration Law Reform
Immigration law is one of the most contentious issues in the United States today. The current system of enforcement, detention, and deportation has ripped apart families, created a patchwork of state and federal laws that do not work well together, and placed judges and lawyers on the frontline of a battle that should be decided by legislatures. The number of illegal persons thought to be living in the United States in the year 2011 alone is 11.1 million. And there are 4.5 million children born of parents living illegally in the United States.
The current laws are murky at best on the issue of immigration matters. This has led to a default role taken by the judiciary, particularly in those states with immigration laws that are stricter than the federal government’s. Until Congress steps in and defines clearly the role of the judiciary and outlines a clear and decisive immigration policy for the country, the opportunity for uncertainty and abuse will remain.
Drug Law Reform
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, in a speech before the American Bar Association, called for an end to federal prosecution of low-level drug users and others trapped by the enforcement of federal drug laws and the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences. Since their inception in 1986, mandatory minimum laws created by Congress and various state legislatures have not so much reduced drug dependency in the United States as they have robbed convicted individuals of the opportunity to successfully reintegrate into society.
The problem with mandatory minimums, which has many in the legal community against them, can be addressed by returning discretion back to the courts and to the hands of judges when deciding on sentences. Allowing judges this simple authority may help reverse the 25 years of mass incarceration at the expense of lives that are beyond reform.
There is a sense that the judiciary in the United States is little more than a dictatorship, ruled more by ideology than legal precepts and precedence. Judges appointed on a national and statewide basis, often to lifetime appointments, set the course for the rule of law with little oversight or scrutiny from the outside.
The movement to elect judges and hold them accountable for their decisions has its pros and cons. There are those who argue that the direct election of judges will lead to the politicizing of the judiciary and eliminate the independence that judges require. Others argue that the current process is already highly politicized. Creating a system of greater accountability for judges may prove more beneficial to the public than the current system of ideology-based appointments.
Francis Skelton is a freelance legal writer who focuses on legal reform, bail bonds, criminal defense, personal injury, civil procedure and other similar issues. Those who’d like to learn more about bail bonds should view the following information about reliable bail bonds in Houston TX.
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