September 21, 2005
bad use of law
When the RICO act was passed in 1970, I didn't like the broad powers it granted government. I wondered how long it would take for government and smart lawyers to start abusing that power.
It didn't take long.
In the 1980's, however, civil lawyers noticed section 1964(c) of the RICO Act, which allows civil claims to be brought by any person injured in their business or property by reason of a RICO violation. Any person who succeeded in establishing a civil RICO claim would automatically receive judgment in the amount of three times their actual damages and would be awarded their costs and attorneys' fees. The financial windfall available under RICO inspired the creativity of lawyers across the nation, and by the late 1980's, RICO was a (if not the most) commonly asserted claim in federal court. Everyone was trying to depict civil claims, such as common law fraud, product defect, and breach of contract as criminal wrongdoing, which would in turn enable the filing of a civil RICO action.
Ask me again why I don't like the Homeland Security Act.
That's a long-winded lead-in to this post. This is where law becomes ridiculous to me. I totally agree with what the authorities are doing, but using the RICO Act as justification? Surely, they could have done better than that.
Well, you work with the tools you have. And if we don't find some way to tighten our borders, we're headed for dire straits.
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