Changes to our corrupt legal system could result in more funding for crime prevention
OUR CORRUPT LEGAL SYSTEM- Why Everyone Is a Victim (Except Richard Criminals), by Evan Whitton
Review by Elizabeth O'Brien*
A new book argues that changing from our adversarial legal system to an inquisitorial (truth-seeking) system will increase justice and reduce taxes.
We believe the benefits of change are amply demonstrated in Evan Whitton’s Our Corrupt Legal System: Why Everyone is a Victim (Except Rich Criminals).
He says the adversarial system conceals compelling evidence, and highly-paid lawyers adept at sophistry control the evidence and the process.
Consequences include: at least 1% of prison inmates are innocent; more than half the guilty escape justice; civil hearings can take months; lawyers for white collar suspects can run taxpayer-funded agencies, e.g. the tax office, round the courts for years and perhaps run out of money.
The 1936 Tax Act barred artificial tax evasion schemes “absolutely”, but a champion sophist, Garfield Barwick, persuaded the High Court in 1957 that absolutely does not mean absolutely; there could be exceptions. Paying tax became optional for the self-employed and companies, and pay-as-you-earn taxpayers had to make up the difference.
Barwick persisted with sophistry when he became Chief Justice in 1964. His court’s rulings, including that a profit is a loss, resulted in tax evasion estimated at $800 million, some $11 billion at today’s rates, from 1970 to 1978. In 1980, PAYE taxpayers paid 81.2% of all income tax. Tax Commissioner Michael Carmody said in 1999 that tax schemes had caused “$3.5 billion in claims and rising”. Tax evasions schemes have not diminished.
There is thus more than a grain of truth in H.L. Mencken’s observation: “If all the lawyers were hanged tomorrow, and their bones sold to a mah-jongg factory, we’d be freer and safer, and our taxes would be reduced by almost half.”
Whitton notes that in the inquisitorial system reformed by Napoleon, judges who are trained separately from lawyers (and paid at judges’ rates) control the process and search for the truth. Lawyers are kept on a tight leash. Results include: the innocent are rarely charged; almost all the guilty are convicted; civil hearings take about a day.
He says it will not be impossible to change: we already use the inquisitorial system for inquiries of various kinds, including inquests and Royal Commissions.
I suggest that part of the tax savings accruing from the change to a truth-seeking system might be used to give added funding to an organisation whose work will reduce crime rates because it increases awareness of the damage lead poisoning does to children’s brains and adults’ longevity, and how to alleviate the damage.
Our Corrupt Legal System is available from www.thebookdepository.com (free shipping worldwide), Amazon, and other booksellers.
* Full disclosure. LEAD Group President, Elizabeth O’Brien, was involved in editing the book, including suggesting the addition of the following: “Malcolm Turnbull (BCL Oxon), an Australian politician, was encouraged by elements of his (Liberal) party in November 2009 to say that global warming was over-rated. Declining, he said he was no longer a barrister, and hence could not run an argument in which he did not believe.”