Wow! What a great book! Whatever Happened to Justice? by Richard J. Maybury is written in terms that are easy enough for middle school children to understand, and he offers so many examples and insights into what went wrong and is still spinning out of control in our country.
The entire book talks about Common Law and how it worked and enabled our country to become the prosperous land of the free that it was for a hundred years. This book also explains how things began to go wrong, when our country’s leaders turned to Political Law and cast Common Law aside. It explains about the two types of Law: Scientific Law and Political Law.
You’ve probably never even heard of Common Law. I know I wasn’t familiar with the term until I read this book. Mr. Maybury also points out how, not only did our leaders cast Common Law aside, but it has been buried. No one is taught about Common Law anymore, not even lawyers.
Mr. Maybury quotes many of our founding fathers, as well as other historical figures and resources to make his points. He has traveled the world and examined the many different types of government. He explains how “Case Law” is a method of evolving law on a case by case basis. It was developed by judges and was the beginning of “scientific law”.
Historically, the clergymen were the most highly respected and neutral third party in a community, and therefore were often the ones to listen to both sides of a story and then consult moral guidelines such as the Ten Commandments and make a decision. The grapevine would spread this decision throughout the community. It would become a “precedent” for later decisions.
The reasoning behind it was simple. The fundamental nature of humans doesn’t change much; what was right yesterday remains right today.
Eventually some of the clergymen became so skilled at listening to cases and making sound judgments that they acquired much prestige. Demand for their services grew and they became full-time judges. The body of precedents they produced became the law of common usage, the “common law“.
Since judges were making decisions based on moral guidelines and dealt with people from different communities or of different religions, the guidelines on which cases were decided had to be those which all reasonable persons held in common.
Therefore, after much thought, the judges came up with two fundamental laws on which all major religions and philosophies agree: (1) do all you have agreed to do, and (2) do not encroach on other persons or their property.
Encroach means to enter steps or stealth into the possessions or rights of another; to trespass or intrude. To gain or intrude unlawfully upon the lands, property, or authority of another. (Black’s Law Dictionary)
These words are just the tip of the iceburg that is this book. Everything in italics and bold are direct quotes from the book, which I highly recommend and plan to use as part of my son’s homeschool government studies when he gets to high school.
If you’re interested in reading more of this book, or one of the other books that Mr. Maybury has written that teach wonderful lessons, you can find them at http://www.bluestockingpress.com