claim. Game over, the elite can do as they wish. For all intents and purposes, covert operatives of probably all nations operate with total disregard of the law, and are rewarded with virtual immunity from it. The French military guerrillas who blew up the Greenpeace boat in Auckland harbor, committing murder in the process, were quickly released to work again in their same capacity.

As previously mentioned, Patty Hearst was released virtually without punishment, into her billionaire father's custody despite photographic proof of her holding a gun during a bank hold-up.

Does the injustice stop there? Not in Oliver North's case. The story actually gets worse. "Ollie" was convicted on May 4 1989 of three felony counts, one of which was for shredding evidence. On Jul 5, he automatically lost his retirement pay of $23,000 per year due to a Federal law that stipulated that anyone convicted of destroying Federal documents would "forfeit his office". Faced with the dilemma of their hero being penalized like that, the U.S. Senate quite unabashedly voted 78-17 to alter that law by eliminating the clause that disqualified Ollie from collecting the $23,000 per year. Quid Pro Quo!! Not only does he have his pension back, he is appealing his convictions.

Perhaps neither he nor the American justice system has heard of the Nuremberg trials.

As we all know, by the time an appeal goes through, a whole generation will have passed, or so it will probably seem. If and when appeals go as far as they can, they end up in the U.S. Supreme Court which was described earlier. Needless to say, the five conservative judges have the last and final word in the matter. If they quash a conviction. The defendant walks free.

Now that we have looked at "justice" for the rich, let's have a quick look at "justice" for the poor. Pardon me, but I squirm a little whenever the word justice is used in connection with the justice system.

Justice for the Bottom 90

In a case where a person is being charged, one of the most noteworthy characteristics of justice for the bottom 90% is that justice comes more swiftly. Generally speaking, the poor don't get to walk the streets for months or years prior to their case being heard.

If on the other hand a person with little or no financial reserves has been wronged, and wishes to press charges against perhaps a company that has performed shoddy or dangerous work, then the wheels of justice usually grind to a halt. In America, the cost of legal representation is so prohibitive, that most who belong to the working class can not afford to use the justice system even if they have a legitimate cause. To begin with, most cannot afford the lost earnings or the court costs either, even if the person could risk being laid off or fired due to absence from work to attend court. The fact that the majority of Americans, have from the start, been generally prevented by economics from using the justice system should provide the ultimate telltale evidence of the legal system's true purpose and function in society.

However, to avoid being condemned for allowing this economic barrier to exist, and to at least theoretically allow the poor to participate in justice, "contingency fees" were introduced whereby the lawyer is paid only if he wins. Not surprisingly, that arrangement sounds better than it really is. Under this contingency fee arrangement, lawyers normally collect between 30% to 40% of the damages awarded, in addition to, whatever it costs to litigate the case!! {B168}

It is now not uncommon for lawyers to receive more than the clients whom they represent. In fact, the Supreme Court in Washington upheld an award of $245,456.25 in fees for lawyers who won $33,350 in damages for eight of their California clients in a case involving excessive force by police. Lawyers can end up with seventy cents out of every dollar awarded to their clients. So the average citizen has a very slim chance of obtaining a lawyer to work on a contingency basis, if the case has plenty to do with the principles of justice, but little potential for a substantial financial damage award.

However, when the potential damage awards are sizable, lawyers pop out of the woodwork in droves to take the case. Around the nation, an increasing number of physicians are now refusing to deliver babies in fear of the potential lawsuits that inevitably follow birth complications. Changes to tort law, that occurred in the sixties, opened the floodgate for malpractice suits in America, as a direct result of the substantial financial rewards for lawyers who succeed in cases against the deep pockets of drug companies and physicians themselves.

Winning a big case, is equivalent to winning a lottery. Not only have health costs skyrocketed as a direct result of these costs being passed along to the general public, the vast wealth being accumulated by countless contingency case jackpot winners is fueling unrealistic expectations and demands for wealth among the rest of the legal community.

In the Forbes survey of 63 top Trial lawyers, only one made less than $2 million in either 1987 or 1988. Collectively they earned $750 million. Joseph Dahr Jamail who rode to victory in the 1987 Texaco-Pennzoil case allegedly made $450 million for his troubles in 1988, ...a substantial increase over the $25 million he made in 1987. {B169} For the bottom 90% of society this would be equivalent to winning 475 lottery jackpots in the space of two years. It's really scandalous and unethical considering the public end up footing the bill.

The Watchdogs

Are there watchdogs to keep the judges and lawmakers honest? Well, yes there are. But I'll let you judge them for yourself.

Keeping the Judges Honest

Because the role of the legal community has been so crucial to the continued dominance of the elite, and because they have carried out their mandate so well over the centuries, the elite have had no reason to set up a mechanism for disciplining members of the legal fraternity. Until very recently, the legal society itself was responsible for disciplining its own members for wrongdoing. Short of impeachment, there did not exist any means of disciplining a judge. However, one presidential nomination for the Supreme Court was rejected by the Senate (due to the judge's involvement in conflict of interest indiscretions on several occasions). Mind you, he was the only presidential nominee to have been rejected for the past 40 years. In voting to reject the judge, Senator Muskie commented that Judge Clement Haynsworth exhibited a marked insensitivity to situations involving "conflict of interest" risks.

Due to the growing number of lawyers, judges, and even Attorneys General that have been caught out exercising very poor judgments in their personal or professional lives, Congress was forced in 1980 to legislate a means of disciplining judges. The chairman of this newly formed body was in effect to be the Chief Justice responsible for disciplining the nation's judges, so logically one would expect that whomever was chosen for this position would possess a record of ethical behavior that could serve as a role model for the judiciary.

In 1982, Chief Justice Warren Burger appointed to that position of trust the only presidential nominee for the Supreme Court to be rejected by the Senate in 40 years (for repeated conflict of interest indiscretions), Judge Clement Haynsworth. Believe it or not! {B170}

Of the nine cases Judge Haynsworth presided over since his appointment, six were dismissed, two cases were dealt with secretly, and only one judge ended up receiving a public reprimand. Notch up one for the fraternity!! Judge Haynsworth's appointment to this position tells as much about the integrity of the law fraternity, as Mr Danny Wall's appointment as chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (and later as Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision) does of the Congress.

But don't go away, there's more.

The Senate Judiciary Committee

One of the strongest, if not the strongest weapon currently being used in the war against white collar criminals is a piece of legislation entitled the Racketeer-Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) introduced in 1970. It is under this act that individuals like Michael Milken (the Junk bond king), and Charles Keating (the Lincoln S&L owner), to name but a couple, are now being prosecuted. In other words this legislation is frightening the hell out of the entire elite and even threatens to place a few of their members behind bars for a long time. It is not surprising then that this piece of legislation is now in danger of being rendered harmless by the new conservative Supreme Court. Four of the justices have let it be known that they think that RICO is unconstitutionally vague, thus virtually giving the green light to those being prosecuted to challenge RICO's constitutionality.{B171}

Michael Milken and Charles Keating probably have little to fear from RICO anyway, because there is a Senate Judiciary Committee actively reviewing RICO with the intention of removing its stinger. Guess which Senator has been selected as Chairman of this committee? Give yourself full marks if you guessed it is Senator DeConcini (D-Ariz.) who received $50,000 from Charles Keating in campaign contributions and who was instrumental in causing the S&L losses in the first place. {B172} Once again, the influence peddling and conflict of interest is obvious, but no one involved seems to be worried about that, the prime job is to get the job done.

There are still more "conservative changes" in the pipeline.

The Inspectors General

Another thorn in the administration's side has been the policing action of a corps of 24 "Inspectors General" created through the passage of the Inspector General Act of 1978 as part of a wave of post-Watergate reforms. Since their inception, the group has been credited with investigating close to 15,000 cases. It has been their work that has uncovered fraud within the Defense Department, the generic-drug scandal within the Food and Drug Administration, and
{B168} "The plaintiff attorneys' great honey rush" Forbes (Oct 16 1989): p198
{B169} "The plaintiff attorneys' great honey rush" Forbes (Oct 16 1989): p204-209
{B170} Quoted from article "Look who heads 'supreme court' of judicial discipline" by Alan M. Dershowitz, Professor of Law at Harvard University
{B171} "A right turn, but no free ride for business" BusinessWeek (Jul 10 1989): p27
{B172} "Business may have found a way to defang RICO" BusinessWeek (Aug 28 1989): p