Every Law in America needs to be based directly on the Constitution. And each punishment needs to be a set value based on which Constitutional Rights were taken, denied, or infringed upon. For example:
In the current news, there are stories of a certain church group traveling to funerals to picket the service and cause trouble. Here's why they're wrong: The church members have two Rights here: Religion and Speech. However, the funeral goers have the exact same Rights. The difference is the church members have travelled to the funeral people's place of worship to disrupt them. Therefore, by exercising their Rights, the church members are interfering with the funeral people, whereas the funeral people-- handling their affairs in the place set aside for their affairs-- are interfering with no-one.
With this example, we learn that the inherent caveat of our Rights is simple: we are entitled to exercise our Rights so long as by doing so we do not deny, nor impede, the exercising of someone else's Rights. You want to peaceably protest? Great. You just can't do it in the middle of the street and keep people from going about their day.
It becomes a fairly simple process to determine wrong-doing. I say "fairly simple" because we are, after all, a complex species and arguments are going to arise. But that's where the Court comes in. The purpose of Court is to have a detached third-party listen to each side of a case and then make an impartial judgement based on the testimony, and evidence, provided. It is imperative that no member of the Court have any stake in the case, nor be the recipient of any bonus based upon which side wins the case.
For this reason, I believe "Lawyers" should be Government employees and paid through taxes like any other Government employee, and chosen at random to handle cases, thereby removing the ability of a large corporation, or rich individual, from gaining an unfair advantage in Court due to their wealth. Also, the Prosecutor in the case should bear the responsibility of any court costs, not the person being tried/sued. Should the Prosecutor win the case, the Court Fee responsibility can be passed to the Defense as part of the settlement/punishment. This should help alleviate, at least in part, some of the frivolous lawsuits we see today. The "wealthy" would, of course, have an advantage here if the reward from winning a case outweighs the cost to hold the case, but we can only leave that in the hands of the Court/Jury and whether or not the Defense counter-sues for compensation after proving the case was frivolous.
In the above example, I have no doubt the church members know exactly how disrespectful and disruptive they are being, or that they are ruining the funeral goer's ceremony. This should be an illegal offense, and called out in Court as -for example- Denial of Right 2 (Free Speech) and Right 3 (Freedom of Religion). One should not have to learn Latin, or study in Law School for multiple years, to understand that. The basis of our Freedom-based society should be a matter of common knowledge, and knowing whether or not one is breaking a Law equally known.
(Editor's Note: I'm still working on this one. It's difficult trying to find a "fair" and "unbiased" method of protecting the "little guy" from stupid lawsuits meant to win through monetary aggression)
Which brings us to the role of Lawyers, themselves. I do not believe we should require attorneys for explaining the Law to us. As it stands, our Justice System is filled with jargon written in multiple languages -including Latin- which someone has to translate and explain to me. I believe the job of an attorney is to be my level-head in the courtroom; to speak for me without emotion, and without the frustration of being on trial. The Law, itself, should be easily understood by every single American.
The way I feel the Law should work is this: there should be two types of "Law", both based directly off the Constitution, with the only difference being whether or not one becomes a Criminal for breaking them.
The first type is a Rule. Breaking a Rule does not turn someone into a criminal, it simply means you will be held accountable for the action.
The second is a Law. Breaking the Law means your are now considered a criminal in the eyes of society and your Rights become limited as part of being held accountable.
Rules are used to give some of our Rights a bit of Order. For example, a Stop Sign or Traffic Light does not keep you from traveling it just gives that action a bit of order so we're not slamming into each other at intersections. Speed Limits are there to reduce the number of accidents and deaths on our roadways. When you break these Traffic Rules, you will be fined, perhaps even jailed or have your License revoked, depending on the severity of your offense, but there is no need to label someone a criminal for these actions.
In the event that you hurt or kill someone, however, now you have broken a Law. When a Law is broken, punishments are much harsher than those when you simply break a Rule, and-- as you have now demonstrated your disregard for people, Society, and our way of life-- you lose some of your Rights. Criminals should no longer be allowed to Vote, or own a Firearm, for example. Breaking a Law and becoming a criminal means you have taken part in an action which causes people to suffer loss: be it money, property, or some aspect of Life (whether through becoming crippled in some way or death).
By determining Laws in this manner, we can easily see why murder would be the most serious of crimes. By taking someone's life, you effectively take every single Right from them. Their Right to their religion, their Right to Free Speech, their Right to Bear Arms, etc. You get the picture. This also helps us distinguish between murder and killing in self-defense. We still have to prove who was at fault (the responsibility of the Court to determine), but, once proven, the crime, itself, becomes evident. If someone breaks into my home, I have the Right to defend my property and life, therefore I am Lawfully justified in taking the life of the person attempting to unLawfully take these Rights from me.
This is why our Laws need to be Constitution-driven. The Constitution is blind. You have your Rights regardless of monetary worth, political views or standings, your sex, your religion (if any), etc. If we simply allow the Constitution to dictate what we are all equally entitled to, then emotion becomes irrelevant and we all get a fair shake. And in instances where the attorney, and/or Defendant/Prosecutor feels the Constitution has not been upheld, the case would step-up to an out-of-state Court, and then the Supreme Court from there. (Note that stepping up a case immediately puts the burden of Court Fee responsibility on the person/organization requesting the Step-up since they are effectively Prosecuting the original Court's findings.)
Click the Business link in the menu on the left to see how I would handle business and businesses under this system.