Close window  |  View original article

Judges Without Judgment

The law is a ass.

By Petrarch  |  May 5, 2008

First, kill all the lawyers.

- Henry IV, William Shakespeare

These days, we rarely need to look far before tripping over yet another reminder of why the Bard's advice has retained its appeal down through the years.  There can be few stronger indictments on our current legal climate, though, than this week's decision in a New York court concerning the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

No, not those attacks; we're expecting the lawsuits over 9-11 to finally be resolved in, oh, 2025 or so.  This is concerning the first terrorist attacks, namely, the bomb planted in the parking garage beneath the towers on Feburary 26, 1993.  Yes, fifteen years on, the first appeal has finally come to decision.  And what a doozy of a decision it is!

These complex and impenetrable cases are why the judges get the big bucks and are held in some high esteem.  After exhaustive research, testimony from countless witnesses, and (as previously noted) fifteen years of work, the First Department of the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court unanimously - unanimously, no less - found that the mayhem and destruction on that day was the fault of... drum roll please...  the New York Port Authority!  That's right, the court found the Port Authority 68% liable for bombing their own building.

No, the judges have not all become charter members of the "truthers."  They don't actually believe that the Port Authority set the bombs.  They merely pointed out that the Port Authority had previously been warned that an underground parking garage would be a plausible place for a bomb, and that they failed to close the garage forthwith - thus, they are more at fault for the injuries than the terrorists themselves.

There is only one appropriate response to this, and it involves immediate impeachment for the judges involved.  Yet such a solution would be far too simple.  The real question is, what sort of a society do we have in which judges can even say such a thing with a straight face?

The bottom line here is that suing terrorists doesn't make anyone any money.  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mohammed Salameh, Mahmud Abouhalima (is there a pattern here?) and the rest don't have billions to cough up.  The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - which is to say, the taxpayers of the States of New York and New Jersey - do.  So that's where the fault must be assigned, by hook or by crook.

The august justices have issued their decision steeped in legal precedent.  They referred to a past ruling where the New York Transit Authority was liable for the death of a person intentionally murdered by being shoved in front of a speeding train, because the train was going slightly too fast (although it would have been impossible to stop in time in any case).

Again, they cited cases where an assault victim successfully sued the transit agency because the ticket taker was asleep in their booth during the mugging, when otherwise they might have heard the victim's cries of pain and come to help.  But this thorough legal research and support doesn't to go show that the decision is sound, far from it: it goes only to show that the entire structure is utterly rotten.

When we, as a society, have abandoned all concept of placing the responsibility for crime on the criminals, then no amount of court procedure and legal precedent will see justice done.  Without both common sense and horse sense, a justice system is anything but.

And that's the situation we see here, in both the lunatic decision of liability for a terrorist attack and the equally lunatic precedents used to come to that conclusion.  More's the pity for the longsuffering residents of New York and New Jersey, who have now been victimized twice.