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tv   On Contact with Chris Hedges  RT  August 5, 2017 11:01pm-11:30pm EDT

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art against the abuse of power but advances the interests of those with money power and influence our elected officials as ralph nader has pointed out have permitted the creation of a judicial system would secret law secret courts secret evidence secret budgets and secret prisons all put in place in the name of national security attorney client privilege has been abolished and redacted published judicial decisions are released to the public hey b.s. corpus probable cause privacy and due process have been for many a race especially for the two point three million people will roaded into our prison system without trial r t correspondent examines the collapse of the american judicial system. do you have faith the justice system is there to serve you the ballooning private prison industry wouldn't be possible without courts enthusiastically sentencing nonviolent offenders to time behind bars and things to
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regulations like the federal three strikes provision instituted by president clinton in one thousand nine hundred four and that dynamic has been officially codified let's look at the state of california as an example bipartisan policy adviser at the legislative and malice office in california analyze the impact ten years of three strikes had on the state and found the majority of inmates imprisoned under three strikes were serving for nonviolent or non serious crimes the high rates of sentencing led to serious overcrowding by two thousand and eleven the catastrophe boiled over with some prisons reaching three hundred percent capacity to remedy the situation the state began paroling non-serious offenders criminology professor jody sunt investigated whether or not the policy impact on public safety and told the washington post in twenty sixteen and astounding seventeen percent reduction in the size of california prison population had no effect. on aggregate rates of violent or property crime but the private prison
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industry in the state still thrives with private prison company correction corporations of america still managing to double its revenue in california from two thousand and eight to two thousand and twelve this is the result of the way our judicial system is designed as us district judge jed rakoff stated in the new york review of books in two thousand and fourteen our criminal justice system is almost exclusively a system of plea bargaining negotiated behind closed doors and with no judicial oversight the outcome is very largely determined by the prosecutor alone considering this perhaps it's unsurprising that in two thousand and thirteen at ninety seven percent of federal criminal cases ended in a plea deal that may have something to do with the fact in ninety percent of criminal defendants qualify as indignant leaving them dependent on underfunded and overworked public defenders this data begs the question is are to dish will system
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designed to keep crime down or keep a system which profits off imprisonment afloat. thank you on your joining me today in washington d.c. is edgar eskom he is a law professor former counsel and speechwriter to robert f. kennedy and the creator of time banking a currency the rewards decency caring and social justice he is also the author of no more throwaway people he co-founded the antioch school of law with his late wife jean kemper com the law school placed an emphasis on serving the poor and trained prospective lawyers in social activism let's talk about what has happened over your lifetime to the american legal system. well i think the american legal system. has been captured by the same focus on money and billable hours that. that we see pervading every domain
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whether it's teachers in test scores whether it's churches and mega buildings so i see us as involved in what i call a mindless monoculture where were you live in a monoculture. and a monoculture is very profitable until it collapses we saw savings and loan we saw lawyers actually put together the loan instruments so people were thought they were investing in in secure investments because they were backed by a mortgage but the mortgage was meaningless because the mortgages and the loans were given on the basis of to people who could not pay back and so that was going to collapse it was profitable for the industry lawyers put that together in this book no contest ralph nader talks about the ways in which. mega giants in dealing with different times of health improvements cataract operation and so forth in effect stop competition and use the complexity of the law and used the ability
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really to white people by extending discovery as a way of explaining coverage what does that mean by that that means you put people who depositions but the depositions that they could threaten to withhold nationwide it would of course to the creators of a new kind of cataract operation a new kind of cataract. replacement system would of course them well over a million dollars they couldn't take that kind of battering so small enterprises innovative enterprises that would reduce the cost and reduce monopoly related course scott got knocked out and this book is really an analysis and a description of that use of of lawyer in power now i don't want to pretend that lawyers are necessary anymore because particularly those who specialize in corporate law and corporate finance any more than i would want to say that neurosurgeons are in need then you need
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a primary care doctor to go into your skull i think there's a huge complexity about corporate law particularly in the context of multinationals but that doesn't mean that they don't have a responsibility as officers of the. court to expand literally you take an oath to expand the capacity of the legal system and to advance justice and to address legitimate grievances of people so that the legal system can be doing what it's supposed to do which is to effectuate rights and protect people from from injury now here i come down to what congress has done to efforts to stop legal service attorneys from taking care he says and we should say that you were the engine behind this program under the johnson administration. and my late wife who wrote the blueprint that that said if you're going to have
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a war on poverty you've got to have a vehicle to amplify the voices of poor people so you know what the hell they're going through but second. you really need to find a way. that that system can be held accountable and that the lawyers are going down a path that the clients don't want you need to hold the lawyers accountable because they can go on crusades that are not appropriate as a result of that. and i'm simply going to say that when i started lyndon johnson had told justice author goldberg that there was no way he was going to allow public money to be used to sue him. but when it came down to writing the regulations for the office of economic opportunity my job was to specify the kinds of services that poor people could get from community action delaware not only funded that would be federally funded and somehow not only did
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legal services get in there but what shocked sargent shriver was when we persuaded . a southern gentleman from richmond named lewis powell who may have you heard of that that the american bar association supported it well that blew everybody away because this is originally when we proposed this this was called socialist law this was government hiring lawyers and obviously government money was going to somehow into feel with the independence of the profession and its ability to take stands because it could be bought off well. lewis powell decided that that he wanted to advance justice and he persuaded the entire american bar association he did some manipulation but he got the entire house of representing the house delegates to vote unanimously to endorse legal services and so that put it on the map then when it came down to. phasing out the war on poverty.
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then my job and my wife's job was to write a memo for chief justice berger actually as to what kind. of an independent corporation could could possibly be established that would protect the integrity and the independence of legal service lawyers well then congress comes along when it has to or because it's federally funded. it's probably you the main source of funding for people who can't afford lawyers but i have to say i don't know a lawyer who can afford a lawyer so that we've got a little problem of pricing in a very important service to deal with all manner of problems but when congress then one you'll see that trump possess to fund that the legal services corporation and that's
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a perennial battle that goes on and in the past the lawyers. have championed the american bar association has championed refunding so i really have to give them credit what i don't give them credit for is the imposition over struction on every legal service attorney to do what any attorney for a rich person would do like you can't talk to administrator is about regulations you can't lobby you can't bring class actions you can't handle a whole array of cases dealing with something all of them you know there's a bill now to destroy a class actually could be ability even carry out any class action lawsuit in the house i think it's the house judiciary committee well i think it's time that we were minded the members of the house and the members of the senate who are attorneys that then maybe they ought to be disbarred. because if that's the price they want to exact then they ought to pay a price for that i think we have to i think what we've seen is that was true of gay
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rights and now there happens to be a supreme court decision so you can't but you can as a legal service attorney deal with algae bt kinds of cases you can deal. with something you may have heard of called school desegregation you can't deal with domestic violence so there are a whole array of situations which officers of the court wearing their hats as elected representatives in congress have imposed those restrictions on legal service attorneys now we know that legal service attorneys. are really good at asserting rights but they have to sort of person by person by person when you're dealing with a whole public housing complex when you're dealing with a whole neighborhood and when you're dealing with what i call the school to prison pipeline that you may have heard of where we've got schools in the district with seventy five percent of the kids are suspended in the course of the year so how
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much all day learning you can't deal with the racial disparity because frankly what the statistics show is not the white kids who gets as we're back to that when we return we'll hear more from. the world experience. and you. will. according to just. come along. and.
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basically everything that you think you know about civil society has broken down. there's always going to be somebody else one step ahead of the game. we should not be. saying. we don't need people that think like this on our plate. this is an incredibly situation. where the american middle class has been railroaded by washington politics. big corporate interests. a lot of boys that's how one. in the new culture in this country now that's where i come in. on r.t. america i'll make sure you don't get railroaded you'll get straight in the break.
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with chris hedges. welcome back to on contact we continue our conversation with edward kahn attorney and author of no more throwaway people so at this point how would you characterize the legal system has it been is it a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate state is it. we have seen appointments of judges who almost all even under obama come out of corporate law firms how would you assess the health of the traditional system well i think
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that we've got. a product that is really critical to the freedom and pursuit of happiness and fundamental rights people but where i see the problem is i don't know a public defender who can handle competently more than one hundred fifty felonies walking around with a caseload of five hundred. i don't know of any system that can do the kind of quality work is an individual public defender needs to do on behalf of a client. with the kinds of case loads that are being dumped on them because of the shortage of funding so that's that's on the criminal side so what they have to do. basically because the prosecutors are then saying we're going to go for the maximum and now that the attorney general has called for
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a revival of this broken war on drugs we're going to see the prisons and the juvenile system of the juvenile prisons basically flooded with kids for ten and twenty years for having some marijuana and they're not going to have counsel they're going to be told oh just just plead guilty and you'll go for it there's no capacity within the courts to even hold trials so you've got a system that in effect says the only way you can retain even a semblance of freedom is to walk around with the rest of your life with a criminal record and that's called freedom which means that you would be barred from jaws like things like teaching or hairdressing or other kinds of things because you've got a criminal record. and then you've got a whole go through a whole process of expungement but you can't pay a lawyer and you can pay through the process of expungement and the same lawyers
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who could help you with the process of expungement are usually barred by legal services. requirements and restrictions put on them by by this congress of by officers of the court serving as congressmen and senators are in effect on their hands and saying so how do i think the legal system is working is a wholly owned i think that. you have valiant people in the legal system who stand for the right things i think the judges who knocked out those. prohibitions on immigration. were gutsy i think sally yates stood up when she testified on behalf of the firing of the f.b.i. the director i think she had got so i think the profession i'm very proud to be part of a profession where we stand up for what we do but lawyers have this problem they
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have to eat and they have to have a roof over their heads and so they have to deal with the caseload problems that the institutions that they're working in are saddled with. legal service programs around the country are flooded. they serve close to two million one point eight million people a year they turn away one point eight million people a year which means that the level we know that the level of injustices the level of need to assert rights which were established frankly in the sixty's and seventy's and are also macabre was part of that. you know we had to deal back then with issues what we call privity and issues of faulty products and whether you could sue you couldn't sue the manufacturer could you dealt with the dealer and so there are all kinds of rules and those rules change so we can now is there are all kinds
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of protections created by congress which people can use so i would say we have rights. that were established but even more important. lawyers in legal service programs do not cannot really deal with another part of what is a fundamental part of the legal system there are rights and then there's something called powers and powers are what you exercise to create a new right to the relationship when you form an organization like a nonprofit you're exercising a power when you enter into a contract or an agreement and legal services lawyers basically are limited to the assertion of those rights that that they're still permitted to assert but they can't do the organizing they can't help community groups really organize because organizing community groups is a specifically prohibited part of. of the funding that comes to legal service
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programs the other source of funding. for representation for poor people was the interest on trust accounts of the call of funds but as. the percentage of interest plummeted with the with the with with the banking industry. the money has dropped by more than fifty percent and so the funding for services for poor people has gone down i think this is a fundamental issue and i think that. congress and the senate and state legislators need to make sure that rights are effectuated that doesn't mean they shouldn't certain rights for corporations to enter into agreements but it does mean that they shouldn't use their knowledge of complexity to bar people to ball euler's want to make sure that other rights that have been created to be asserted. the
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legal dilemma for the poor are. it is analogous to what period of american history now certainly pre sixty's there are more rights but people don't know about them. there are more people coming out of law school and finding out that the jobs aren't there. and i think that in effect what people say is. we will do what we can with what we have but we close a blind eye to the extent to which affective assertion of rights would have made a difference for instance domestic violence went way down when lawyers were available to deal with that ironically the offender who committed a charge with an offense has a right to counsel on the gideon the person who is the victim of the violence does
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not they have to go hire a lawyer so you've got a perverse use of the right to counsel in those cases but really. you know we're talking about one hundred fifty dollars an hour we're talking for complex law the price can be for complex corporate in organizational law it can be as much as a thousand dollars an hour or higher and i don't know of any anybody at i don't know of lawyers who can afford lawyers for their own personal he was dean of your wife of antioch law school how do you look at the state of our law schools. well. as of last year as a result of really pioneering work we did in defining. competency for graduate lawyers every law school in the country now has to provide at least six units of clinical legal education for its students now one semester doesn't
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really give a. competence but it means they are at least exposed to something called building a relationship of trust with a client talking to a client beginning to formulate a hypothesis as to what rights might be available maybe educating the client as their rights so i think cut and release sensitizing we're not when i went to law school. we didn't even have professional responsibility as a required course after watergate it became a required course i think that the issue of but in no laws school in the country except the one that we started and that became the new d.c. david a clock school of law is system change itself a subject matter and we're talking about system changed as complex and that involves looking at you know no laws enforced without
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a system to enforce it that means you've got to look at the personnel the sanctions the or the consequences arise when they try and assert a right or protect the right. and if you don't nurture the protection of those rights by the systems that are in for some what are police going to do what a prosecutor is going to do what our housing or authorities going to do what a welfare authorities going to do if they just kick people off and people don't know their rights and don't have access to lawyers then in effect you have once again a return to a lawless society which is where we're going and one of the ways that they put young lawyers in bondage is that they finish these schools owing tens of thousands often over one hundred thousand dollars and so how are they going to pay it back well after the work for a corporate law firm well there used to be provision where if you stayed in public interest law for ten years if you could deal with that kind of kind of debt that your that your debt would be forgiven we need more of that we need the ability by
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being all that you can as an officer of the court advancing the ability of the system to do justice we need to have loan forgiveness for people who will who will sacrifice an immediate return in order to really fulfill their mission i think people come to law school because they want to make a difference because they want to contribute but i've got to tell you that the legal profession has the highest percentage of suicides of and of almost any profession and that's because i think what lawyers are paid to do really takes them away from why they became a lawyer in the first place and their sense that they're just on a treadmill generating billable hours of necessarily even padding those hours in order to meet their quota that's not the life that they that's not the career they wanted to go into i think we need more lawyers who are dedicated. to the principles
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of bring people to law school right thank you. that was attorney and author of no more throwaway people. the one million lawyers in the united states the deans of our law schools and judges in our courts refuse to hold corporate power accountable to the law they have failed us they alone have the education and the skill to apply the law on behalf of the citizens they alone know how to use the courts for justice rather than in justice when this period of american history is written the legal profession must bear much of the responsibility for our descent into corporate tyranny lawyers are supposed to be officers of the court they are supposed to be the sentinel and guardians of the law they are supposed to enlarge our access to justice not narrowing they are supposed to serve those who defend the law not subverted this moral failure by the legal profession has a blitter raided our rights and taken from us our ability to protect ourselves from
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corporate abuse. thank you for watching you can find us on our t. dot com slash on contact see you next week.
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i'm a trial lawyer i've spent countless hours poring through documents that tell the story about the ugly side of. corporate media everything uses to talk about these con artists. i'm going to paint a clear picture about how disturbing council bluffs for conduct is because mark these are stories that you no one else in my pepto your host of americans would question. all the world's a stage and all the news companies merely players but what kind of parties are into america playing artie america offers more artsy american person. in many ways the news landscape is just like this either.

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