We Need a Justice System, Not a Legal System (an Inside Look)

In the United States, above all things, the legal system should be fair, but instead, it is big business.

Additionally, engaging the legal system should not be a major financial decision, but for millions of people in America, it is. Yet, it is also difficult to imagine that this grim reality was one of the original goals defined by those apt gentlemen who created and signed the Declaration of Independence as they chased the dream of a country that could consistently provide the opportunities of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in equal doses to all.

Unfortunately, the legal system that has evolved in the United States, does guarantee equal protection, representation or opportunity to each and every citizen. Perhaps, upon being founded, the legal system should have been foregone and instead replaced by the notions of a justice system. In a justice system, the fair assumption would be that justice as determined by reasonable peers, would prevail. In stark contrast to a justice system, the modern legal system permits those individuals with the most money to prevail. And this, quite simply does not often lend itself to any form of justice, regardless of how remote that form may long to be.

If a person Googles, “average cost per hour for an attorney”, that person will learn that an attorney in rural areas may earn between $100 and $200 per hour, while the slicker, big city attorneys are in the average range of $400 to $600 per hour. Extrapolating this information over a 40 hour work week for one year, the lowest paid full-time lawyers on the attorney totem pole are earning over $200,000 a year ($100 per hour x 40 hours per week x 52 weeks per year = $208,000). When considering this dim reality, it quickly becomes obvious that the average citizen does not possess the means to pay even the cheapest attorney for any significant length of time.

Upon further examination of the facts, we must consider salaries and wages. The minimum wage varies from state to state. As per the 2016 National Conference of State Legislatures, two states have now passed laws to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. California was the first state to pass such laws. This state has now formally required employers to pay $15 per hour by January 1, 2022. New York quickly followed suit, passing legislation requiring employers to pay $15 per hour by July 1, 2020. This means that once the minimum wage is actually increased, earners in each of these states, will be able to afford an inexpensive rural attorney for 39 days by spending an entire year of wages earned ($15 per hour x 40 hours per week x 52 weeks per year = $31,200 annually / $100 per hour for an attorney = 312 total hours / 8 hours per work day = 39 days). However, if someone in a big city needs to hire an attorney and is making $15 per hour, that person can afford an attorney for less than 10 days by spending an entire year of wages earned ($15 per hour x 40 hours per week x 52 weeks per year = $31,200 annually / $400 per hour for an attorney = 78 total hours / 8 hours per work day = 9.75 days). Clearly the minimum wage earner will not have fair or adequate representation, for any real length of time in the current legal (not justice) system, against any sizable entity whose coffers may be ever so scantily lined with rotting cash.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the real (inflation adjusted) median household income in the United States was $51,939 (or $24.97 per hour) in 2013. The United States Consumer Law Attorney Fee Survey Report for 2013-2014, published statistics on attorney’s fees by geographical region. It also separated small firms and large firms into different categories. The lowest average hourly rate available from any law firm in the United States, is $253 (available in the Pacific States of AK, HI and WA), which is billed by small firms. Whereas, the biggest average hourly rate required by law firms in the United States is $546, billed by large firms in North East (CT, MA, MD, ME, NH, RI and VT). This means that the average American income, at the cheapest average hourly rate in the United States, would be able to afford legal representation for less than 26 days ($51,939 annually / $253 per hour for an attorney = 205.29 total hours / 8 hours per work day = 25.66 days), while the lowly, average, full time attorney billing $253 per hour earns $526,240 per year ($253 per hour x 40 hours per week x 52 weeks per year).

And, if a person happens to be in need of legal representation or was falsely accused of a crime and is in need of a defense, that person faces a painful reality. But, don’t forget that this pendulum swings both ways, just ask O.J. Simpson, who perhaps bought his way out of a murder conviction by spending an exorbitant amount of money on attorney fees.

Also, please be aware that this disparity does not stop with these details. Moving away from the low and average range for attorney’s fees, forces our attention only in the upward direction. A large group of attorneys easily make over $1,000 per hour and many of those proponents of a fair legal system claim to bill at double that amount. For example, the notorious bankruptcy attorney Theodore Olsen (although I bet all of his friends just call him Teddy the Bankruptcy Bear) is on record for billing $1,800 per hour, according to court filings in the LightSquared Inc., wireless network bankruptcy case filed in 2012. But the thick, brown, gravy train doesn’t stop to even glance at that billable fee as it trucks on down golden plated tracks. Berge Setrakian and Ralph Ferrara were both reported to make approximately $12.5 million in 2011. Again, simple math tells us that a person earning $12.5 million, who works 40 hours a week for 52 weeks per year, is earning $6,009.62 per hour, which makes a teacher’s salary pale in humble comparison.

Additional figures that do not bode well for most Americans in need of legal representation are the following supplementary facts. As per the U.S. Embassy.gov website, the average time for a jury trial is 4 days for civil cases and 5 days for criminal cases (at least, in 2009). However, cases do not start in trial and they often take a substantial amount of time to get there. To help illustrate this point, a person must first be arraigned. After arraignment, the preliminary hearing phase usually takes 5 to 6 days. In the case of misdemeanor charges, the next step in the legal system is the motions and hearing phase. This typically takes 3 months, but may also exceed 2 years, during which time an attorney is billing the client to file court documents and respond to documents filed by the opposition’s legal team. Based on this reality, the average American may run completely out of cash long before the case ever makes it to trial, in which case, justice is not part of the destination and possibly never even made it onto the legal landscape map.

For business, this dynamic is even worse, because numerous states permit an individual to file “pro per” on behalf of a business. This means an individual or owner chooses to represent him/herself, even though state laws might clearly require a business to be represented by an attorney in a court of law. In systems such as these, the individual may file the case on behalf of a company and begin paying court fees only to learn at a later date that an attorney is required to move the case forward. These legal systems actually cause financial harm and damage to the suffering individual in addition to the actual damages that motivated the case to be filed in the first place. With a minimal amount of expectations, one should be able to assume that engaging the legal system, unto itself, should not inflict a greater financial wound on the already injured party, but it does.

That said, it isn’t just the structure of the laws that make a mockery of the legal system, it is also the system itself. Fortunately, in an effort to dive deeper into the vastness of this overwhelming problem, we may also turn to the US Federal Government for more insight. Twice each year, it publishes statistics on the Federal Court System. Please note however, that these statistics do not include any of the non-federal courts, such as the state and municipal courts.

First, understand that there are 9 different Federal Court Systems:
1. U.S. Courts of Appeals
2. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
3. U.S. District Courts – Civil
4. U.S. District Courts – Criminal
5. Federal Probation System Courts
6. U.S. Bankruptcy Courts
7. Federal Pre-Trial Service Courts
8. U.S. District Courts – Grand and Petit Jurors
9. the U.S. Federal Courts.

And, let’s not forget that the first court on that lists, consists of thirteen different courts:
1. U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
2. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
3. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
4. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
5. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
6. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
7. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
8. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
9. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
10. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
11. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
12. U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
13. Supreme Court of the United States (Court of Last Resort)

After a quick glance, it becomes quite apparent that an individual not only needs an attorney to understand the laws and the intention of those laws, a person may also need the assistance of an attorney to grasp the purpose of each of these courts and the appropriate place to begin seeking “justice” by filing a case in the proper court, since there are soooooo many to choose from.

Truly, it is unfortunate that a person literally has no individual rights unless that person knows the law and most Americans can’t afford to pay an attorney to know the law. So then, how free is the land of the free and the home of the brave when freedom and fair legal representation require money to attain?

Get the Cheapest Auto Insurance Rates Online

You must have auto insurance, but it can cost a small fortune…Or not so small. If your driving record is less than perfect, or you’ve got a young driver on the road, getting the cheapest auto insurance rates can shift from being a good idea to a necessity. Finding the cheapest rates, however, is a challenge.

Begin by realizing that there is no single “cheapest,” only the cheapest insurance available to you, that does the job you need done. Start by determining what insurance you must have.

Your legal obligation will constitute one portion of that equation: many states require a minimum level of insurance before a car can be driven legally in the state. Get the latest information you can, to identify the cheapest auto insurance rates that apply to you.

The second major consideration is what you are doing, and what kind of coverage you need to feel secure in that activity. If the lowest level of insurance is liability insurance, covering only the immediate damage done to the car in a collision, then you can proceed. Most people, however, choose more extensive insurance, then look for the lowest insurance rates for that level of coverage.

Many people choose to purchase a bundle that includes liability insurance, collision insurance (which covers a wider array of collisions than the very narrow definition in liability insurance), and comprehensive insurance. In this way they cover themselves and their cars against most forms of damage and loss.

Beyond this it is also possible to get specialized forms of insurance and extra add-ons. Towing and roadside assistance are a popular form of addition, as is car rental for a given period after an accident or loss. For some this is a luxury addition but for others whose lives and income are completely dependent on a working car, they can be essentials-and if they need this form they will still want to find the cheapest auto insurance rates available for this type of coverage.

When you have determined the precise forms of insurance you need, you can then easily go online and get quotes from many insurance sites. By making good use of this option you can take advantage of the power of the internet to find the very cheapest auto insurance rates that will provide for you needs. Remember, determine the coverage required, add in the features you feel necessary, and then get quotes.

Cheapest Car Insurance For Imported Vehicles – 5 Tips

If you own or plan to buy an imported vehicle, you are undoubtedly excited about your car. Imports can be fuel-efficient, sexy and sporty. And, like any car foreign or domestic, foreign cars require a significant investment to keep you behind the wheel.

Car ownership is never cheap. There are the car payments themselves to think about. And, then you have to pay for gas, repairs… and car insurance.

Imports And Domestic: All Cars Need Insurance

Whether a car is an import or a domestic make, you are going to need to buy insurance. Purchasing car insurance is not only a legal necessity, but it is also a moral one. But, even if these concerns are not at the top of your list, there is another very good reason to buy insurance: to protect your net worth.

You see, if you skip buying insurance or buy too little, you could be liable in civil court for damages after an accident you cause. So, besides being a legal and moral necessity, buying insurance is just plain smart.

Many Imported Vehicles Are Sports Cars

Many imported vehicles fall under the sports car header. If your car is considered as such in the eyes of most insurers, get ready to pay more for insurance than you would if you owned a minivan or a sedan. However, the good news is that you can find insurers that specialize in sports cars (see below).

Types of Insurance Coverage

There are various types of coverage. In general, you will want to consider liability insurance (to cover the other party), medical coverage (to cover your party’s medical bills), collision (to cover your party’s vehicle repairs) and uninsured motorist (to cover your party’s bills if the other party causes the accident but is not insured).

Finding The Cheapest Car Insurance – 5 Tips

Here are 5 tips for cheapest car insurance for imported vehicles:

1. Decide whether your car is considered an sports car: While there is no universal definition for sports car, in general sports cars are going to be those that are high performance, have two doors, and have a tuned suspension.

2. If a sports car, create a list of insurance companies who specialize in sports cars: Some insurance companies specialize in sports cars, so be sure to put together a list of them.

3. If not, compile list of best insurance companies around: If your import is not a sports car, that just opens up the field even wider for the companies you have to choose from.

4. Create a list of desired coverage types and limits: When shopping for insurance to get the cheapest rates, you are going to want to get comparable quotes from multiples companies. This means getting comparable coverage. Speak with an insurance agent about which types of coverage and coverage limits you need. Then, ask for those same types of coverage from each of the other companies you contact.

5. Contact at least 5 car insurance companies: Now, start shopping! Contact at least 5 of the companies on your list. Don’t stop until you have contacted all of them: more choices means better chances for savings!

Follow these 5 tips to get the cheapest car insurance for imported vehicles.