But first, it’s Prata’s birthday, so let’s all go to his site and
Rick, who smokes way too much for an infant, recently posted a tale about the letter of the law versus the spirit in which he described an incident involving himself, a puppy, a minor, and another adult in the commission of a crime on a university campus (get your heads out of the gutters, people). Despite the fact that the police intervened and yet nobody was killed, it’s still worth a read. Go check it out and I’ll be waiting here when you get back.
Are you done? Took you long enough. :p His story reminded me of the time I decided to stop working as a low-paid office bootlicker and took a beginner’s course to become a paralegal, a.k.a. a slightly better paid office bootlicker. I passed on pursuing that dream job once I discovered they really didn’t make much more money and the majority of their job involved taking crap from lawyers and sucking up to court clerks. Anyway, the first lesson they taught us was that a judge can make a ruling in one of two ways, according to the word of the law or by the spirit of the law. They could have just said a judge can do whatever he goddamned jolly well pleases, but lawyers apparently get paid by the word.
The case study for “word of the law” was a federal case from Kentucky, a state known for producing bucktoothed, inbred, slack-jawed morons…wait, I’m from Kentucky. As I was saying, the state known for producing caring, intelligent, studly netizens who do NOT have yellow fever had indicted a man for trafficking guns across state lines and selling them to convicted felons; he was facing several years in prison as a result. So far, so good, right? American justice rulz! Unfortunately, I made the mistake of reading into the details of the case (we were just supposed to accept the surface facts and move on) and I discovered the actual story was this:
A gun store owner sold a friend of his a pistol which had been manufactured in a neighboring state. Both men were working class schmoes in their forties, but the owner’s pal had served a little time in prison in his late teens. Months later, police discovered the gun in the man’s possession (not in the commission of a crime, although the case studies failed to mention the nature of the arrest) and tracked it’s origins to the store owner and then to the state that assembled the gun, and viola! Interstate arms trafficking to supply convicted felons. The gun store owner got three years in prison. The textbook didn’t say what happened to his gun toting buddy.
The book treated this as a textbook case with no mention of wrongful imprisonment or abuse of the law; it was simply there to demonstrate how a judge can pass sentence based on the word of the law without regards to the situation. I wondered, did anybody actually think they were protecting society by tossing either person behind bars? I tried to voice my concerns in class, but the instructing lawyer let me know that we were there to learn the mechanics of the law and to serve the courts, not to waste anybody’s time by letting mealy-mouthed namby-pamby ethics into the equation. I finished the course, got my certificate, and returned to my cubicle a slightly poorer and yet happier dude.
There was no real point to this story – I’m just deliberately wasting your time. :-)