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Monday, December 1, 2008

The poor performance of county courts

The Plain Dealer has a piece up detailing the many failures of government administered justice in Cuyahoga County. As in the failure of the government to provide the basic right to a speedy trial as outlined in the 6th amendment. They are so incompetent that the average disposition time for criminal cases under this jurisdiction is 173 days, longer for the more serious crimes. Even under an expedited system they are trying out in some areas, the time averages at least 80 days. Of course, they can't seem to find the money to make even this faster time widely available to everyone.

The administration of justice is one of the areas which even many libertarians claim is a rightful perogative of the government. However, the economic arguments against government intervention in other areas of the economy apply just as easily to criminal justice. The claim that free markets can't effectively do this essentially rests on the same assumptions as everything else. Just because the government does it now doesn't mean that markets are incapable.

Libertarian economist David D. Friedman's The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism provides a very interesting framework for how this could be done. Some of the text is available for free on his website, including chapter 29: Police, Courts, and Laws--on the Market. Essentially, his argument rests on protection from coercion being an economic good. Another book I also plan on reading by the same author is "Law's Order: What Economics Has to Do with Law and Why It Matter". Which I will eventually get to... if I'm not so busy with writing blogs, family, and other things.

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