Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

8/28: U.S. Legal System Costs

One offshoot of our discussions about the various Trump indictments has been a discussion about the U.S. legal system in general. In particular, we’ve discussed the costs to individuals of defending themselves in criminal (and civil) cases. See, for example, Rudy Giuliani.

The high cost of mounting a defense appears to generate a number of game-theory approaches to pursuing criminal and civil cases:

  • (Implicitly) using the high cost of defense as a cudgel to elicit a plea bargain, potentially from parties who are actually innocent, but cannot afford an effective defense.
  • Effectively punishing a defendant (via economic cost) who is ultimately found not guilty of the crime.

The questions we might address could include:

  • Cost of legal representation: Are public defenders (in general) a satisfactory substitute for “paid” attorneys? If not, how can the current system realistically be adjusted to make it so?
    • Should co-conspirators be restricted somehow in their ability to pay for each others’ defenses? (See, for example, Walt Nauta)
  • “Entry” into the criminal legal system. Is it too easy for a prosecutor to obtain an indictment from a grand jury? (“Easy” indictments put the accused on a path to substantial economic costs in mounting a defense.)
    • Is the grand jury process otherwise working well? poorly?
  • Civil cases. What about civil cases, in which those with substantial resources (like large corporations) can often overwhelm individuals (whether they are plaintiffs or defendants)?
    • How well do class action lawsuits address this issue?
    • What other “playing-field-levelers” might be employed?
    • Is arbitration a suitable way to reduce court costs in civil cases?
      • How (if at all) should enforced arbitration provisions in contracts be regulated?

I’m sure there will be more to cover (there always is).

See you next Monday.

Trump’s indictment under the Georgia Little RICO statute

We decided last week that we might discuss Trump’s then-anticipated indictment by a Fulton County, GA grand jury under that state’s Little RICO (Racketeering-Influenced Corrupt Organizations) statute. Sure enough, that indictment was filed last Monday.

Eighteen other defendants are named in the indictment, including Rudy Giuliani (who, ironically, made his name as the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York by getting indictments against mob bosses and underlings and winning some of those cases), Mark Meadows, Jeffrey Clark, and others. The indictment comprises 41 counts, ranging from soliciting a public officer to violate their oath, conspiring to impersonate a public officer, conspiring to commit forgery in the first degree, and conspiring to file false documents, You can find the full text (.pdf format) of the indictment, in The Washington Post, at There’s also an annotated version of the indictment from The New York Times at

Among the many questions one could discuss about this indictment are:

Will it ever come to trial?

Why did Fani Willis, the Fulton County DA, decide to try all 19 defendants at the same time?

Why has Mark Meadows moved that the matter be removed to Federal Court, and what’s the likelihood that will happen (see ?

Which of the four indictments of Trump should come to trial first, and why? ?he Manhattan District Attorney’s, accusing Trump of criminal falsification of business records under New York law? The Federal indictment in Florida in connection with the wrongful possession of national security documents, obstruction, etc.? The Federal indictment in Washington, DC regarding the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election? The indictment in Georgia? Or others yet to come (e.g., witness tampering, wire fraud in connection with the solicitation of campaign donations, etc., etc.)?

Alternatively, what about trying to disqualify Trump as a candidate on the grounds that he violated his oath of office by overt insurrection against the United States and/or giving aid and comfort to its enemies (US Constitution, Amendment 14, Sec. 3), as proposed by J. Michael Luttig and Lawrence Tribe (see (Note: This article appears in The Atlantic; I’m not a subscriber, so this link connects to only the first few paragraphs, but maybe one of you has a subscription and can post a link to the entire article.)

See you all on Monday morning.

8/7/23: Israel’s Supreme Court Crisis

The news recently has been filled with stories about protests in Israel in response to the government’s recent legislation to curb the power of the Israeli Supreme Court. We’ll discuss the situation in Israel, comparable circumstances in other countries and the current efforts by the U.S. Congress to establish parameters governing Supreme Court Justices.

Here are a couple of relevant articles (there are lots of them):

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