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Mohr’s Law ** (+ The dysfunctional Bucket)

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Edit April 05;   The Bucket is going into wet season hibernation due to a lack of solar power and an abundance of associated Goffly Malaise.

The Bucket   will      r  e  s  u  m  e         w     h     e     n ………….   zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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(The most entertaining and down-to-earth little book I have read in the last decade is Les Mohr’s “The Dead Horses”

Mohr philosophophizes with Aussie humour and irreverence upon various activities and concepts including God, political correctness, sport, love, festering, marriage, and “The case for selling women”  in a series of 32 short essays.
I am indebted to the part he played in reinforcing my own thoughts, conclusions and life experience, and for inspiring me to write the following rant article.)

** My wording. Mohr’s modesty prevented him naming the law after himself.

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Occasionally in the past I have chosen to point out deficiencies that, as a humble farmer and gardener, I observe in the way Australia’s judicial system functions.

Rather than being a simple and effective system for maintaining law and order, it is primarily a complicated entrenched framework which ensures that the principal players, i.e. judges, lawyers and legal draughtsmen have an institutionalised means to syphon off the maximum amount of money over the longest possible period of time from plaintiffs, defendants and the public purse.

The present adversarial system encourages courtrooms to become theatres for case-winning acting performances rather than practical places for handing out considered, timely, effective and equitable justice.

That I am able to bring you this truth is largely due to the way I was treated by the legal system on one occasion thirty two years ago, following which I made an irrevocable decision to never again attempt to obtain justice from this unwieldy, expensive, self-serving industry.

Our present system is a deeply entrenched and untouchable relic of the past.
It is unaffordable and inaccessible to those in greatest need.
It is also a disgrace that innocence or guilt can be determined by the degree of character assassination inflicted upon litigants (and witnesses) by opposing lawyers.

As Mohr states;

“The legal profession has hijacked the opportunity for common sense and with it justice for ordinary people.”

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Mohr has a solution.

Abolish every law in the statute books, then replace all of those laws with just one;

Mohr’s Law **

It is an offence to cause harm, attempt to cause harm, or behave in a manner likely to cause harm.

There will be no necessity for “fine print” and endless pedantic legal argument.
One simple law which effectively covers everything from slander to physical violence, fraud or environmental vandalism.

Having introduced this level of simplicity, all that is required of
the justice system is the determination by judges and juries of  “extent of harm” caused, then the handing out of sentences commensurate with the “degree of harm” caused.

I have a suspicion that my Dad, who was a Justice of the Peace and occasional assistant in the Magistrate’s Court, would have concluded that Mohr’s Law represents an unsophisticated, unwelcome and flawed attempt to erode the foundations of our established system of British Justice.
Perhaps it is, or just maybe the principle behind it deserves more than a passing glance, for the present justice system is beyond the reach and comprehension of most Australians.

It may be no coincidence that both Mohr and I (separately) spent many of our younger years working with village people in Papua New Guinea and accordingly now view the world from a different perspective knowing that civilisation and simplicity need not necessarily be mutually exclusive.

Mohr’s Law has approximately zero chance of ever being taken seriously by the Establishment. Judicial reform is not exactly music to the ears of all the rich and powerful lawyers and politicians who have vested interests in maintaining Australia’s legal status quo.

I applaud Mohr’s Law for it’s promise of judicial common sense, a commodity which is increasingly absent from the deliberations of, and sentencing applied by Australia’s legal system.

It is more concerned with playing the games that lawyers play.


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About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

20 responses »

  1. Well said, GOF. All those lawyer jokes are no coincidence, which is unfair I know to all those good folk in the law profession who do have a social conscience.

  2. Won’t you have all these lawyers who’ll say, “Define ‘harm!'” Does name-calling resulting in hurt feelings constitute harm? Then does racist invective that causes offense create harm? What if a tree on your property falls down on your neighbor’s car? If no physical harm occurred, but your neighbor was unable to get to work and lost wages, is that harm?

    I’m just sayin’. No lawyer worth his or her salt will sit back and not think of ways to get around a law, however simple.

    • Most of the lawyers will be back out in the real world doing useful and productive work HG.
      I acknowledge that the majority of them are good, well intentioned people, and it is the “system” that now requires them to behave in the manner that they do.

      The JURY (under the learned guidance from the sensible and wise judge) will define and make ALL decisions on the “harm” issue. As they are “ordinary people” endowed with oodles (legal term….apologies for introducing technical terms) of common sense, this will not be a major obstacle to their deliberations.

      “No lawyer worth his or her salt will sit back and not think of ways to get around a law, however simple.”

      Absolutely right HG…..including by telling lies on behalf of the client.

  3. Sorry, but it’s somewhat gratifying to hear the justice system is just as fooked elsewhere as it is here. Having suffered from a miscarriage of justice myself 25 years ago, I harbor no faith in the system.

    The founding principle of the pagan religion known as Wicca is, “An’ it harm none, do as thou wilt.”

    I’m sure your dad is correct in his view. What you and Mohr propose is effectively anarchy. Now, I’ve written about anarchy before. People imagine horrifying scenes of rioting, looting and raping. On the contrary, under pure anarchy, hardly anyone would ever attempt these things because the consequences would include keel-hauling, horse-dragging and lynching.

    • Thank you kimkiminy for your support… just takes one unfortunate experience with the legal system to swear one off it for life. I was also unaware of the similarity of Wicca principle to Mr Mohr’s proposal.

      I would hope that anarchy in any form would not result from such a change. Rather than seriously expecting Mohr’s Law to gain traction I guess our intention is to suggest that changes desperately need to be made to the justice system so that it is available equally to everybody.

      That, of course will always remain a fantasy.

      Old men are entitled to dream.

  4. I don’t want to get going on a rant about common sense. And the lack of it.
    I love the Wicca principle! And the Golden Rule.

    I just have to convince myself that there is not going to be simplicity where most of humanity is concerned!

    • Mohr’s book is full of “common sense” Lauri, including a humorous 4 page essay on “Depression”. I think the full text is available at the link provided in my story.

  5. I think this makes sense but I also know that I’m sadly under-educated.

    Much of the Brehon laws were based upon this principle but specified cause and effect (or “wrong-doing equals punitive measure,” often pay-off).

    You are 100% correct that lawyers (in the US, you prolly know, we don’t colloquially separate barristers from solicitors) are in it for money and they are WAY the hell into it for “billable hours,” let alone percentage-based pay. I had in my younger years four attorneys as “friends.” Through the years, the only one worth spit (and worth my acquaintance) was the patent attorney–which is a completely different field.

    • A friend of mine commonly referred to many people as having been “educated beyond their intelligence”. In this case I would substitute “educated beyond their common sense”, as I know most lawyers are intelligent and (originally) well intentioned people.

  6. I dunno. It sounds nice, but I don’t think human nature can cope with that much leeway. People would be claiming “harm” because someone looked at them the wrong way.

    And I don’t know that judges and juries are any more capable of being fair and unbiased than the attorneys are.

    • At least the juries will not have any financial interest in dragging out proceedings unnecessarily, which should result in justice being made more available to those who need it most.

      A sub-clause might be required to cover the “someone looking at you the wrong way” scenario, which would entitle you to “three free swipes with an umbrella to the head of anyone you suspect has looked at you inappropriately.” 🙂

      Apologies for the levity, but as Mohr’s proposal is simply an impractical (sadly) idea blowing in the wind I will smilingly watch it pass into oblivion.

    • In the end it seems to come down to how good the judge is, AuntieBellum.

      I have done Jury duty and was very impressed by the judge who clarified statements and directed the Jury wisely and with respect. Others have not been so lucky.

      I did see an excellent TV program that showed a French court examining an air crash and judging who was responsible. The folk being queried sat in front of the Judge in more of a conversational attitude and the Judge asked questions directly. No interference from bewigged show offs.

      It looked very effective and the same process was used in Queensland when they investigated Police corruption. It was amazing how many old Sergeants rolled over when quizzed directly without Counsel interfering.

      • “The folk being queried sat in front of the Judge in more of a conversational attitude and the Judge asked questions directly. No interference from bewigged show offs.”

        Excellent. Thanks Pete.

      • So you guys play the whole wig and gown dress up game?

        That would put me off. I’d be giggling so much they’d toss me out for contempt of court. Heh.

        • Actually there were no wigs but as to why I don’t know.

          Just received a jury duty notice now I have moved to Horsham so I guess I’ll be seeing what they do here soon enough.

          I wonder if priests and lawyers have parties where they prance around in their work clothes. Yeech.

  7. I am totally with this guy. Having been a juror recently, I like the American legal system but there was one law so convoluted and complicated that no one could tell us if the action was legal or illegal. I can’t imagine a more useless process. I think Mohr’s law might be ideal for small communities and straightforward cases.

    • Thanks Emmy….appreciate your thoughts. I’m sure judges and juries can determine themselves whether something is illegal or not without reference to the lawyer sideshow.

  8. If only it was so simple – common sense is often missing. I have never had jury duty and I’ve never had to “apply” to a court for help myself but when my son was 17 he was stabbed & seriously injured by a gatecrasher at a birthday party. Months later a youth was arrested and because he was underage proceedings took place in the Juvenile Court. In court this kid could have parents/family with him in the courtroom but my son had to go through the court process on his own – because the perpetrator had to remain “unidentified”. This was incredibly intimidating to my son – facing the stares of this kid and his angry support group. A highly unpleasant experience all round.

    • I was selected for a jury once. It wasn’t a very interesting case…just drug possession. But it was fascinating to see how the system worked. I think everyone should be on a jury at least once, just for that.

      It was also eye opening to see how some people live. This guy had so many people living sporadically in his house that he didn’t even know who half of them were. That was his defense, that the drugs weren’t his and he didn’t know who brought them to the house.


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