Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two Types of Lawyers - Those Who Think, and Those Who Follow

I had the most interesting exchange yesterday with an attorney who works for the State of Washington. Our discussion was about the law of adverse possession and whether it need be changed. Without question, she was well-qualified to discuss the law. But, what surprised me was her inability to apply logic and reason to her argument (or even to counter mine). Sadly, all she could do was to regurgitate what she learned in Property (law school) rather than look at the issue at hand, which is should Washington change its adverse possession laws? So, I thought it would be a good idea to send her a note following up on our talk.

Just wanted to express my appreciation in talking with you yesterday about adverse possession. Clearly, we have differences of opinion about the law.

As you know, it was 1881 since the last time Washington's adverse possession law was changed. If you believe that we should keep laws stagnant and unchanged as to what they were in 1881, then I guess then that you subscribe to the view that women should not have the right to vote. For after all, in 1881 it was Constitutionally settled law that women did not have the right to vote.

In fact, it took 133 years for that change to occur. For 200+ years, people could legally justify owning slaves. I'm sure you do not believe that the Dred Scott decision was right. Legal, yes... but was it right? Other laws, that I'm sure you touched upon in law school, like dowry and curtsy no longer exist because society has moved beyond their need. Heck, can you imagine what our jails would be like if we still enforced "debtor's prison" today?

If there is anything that I can convince you of, it is this: the original need for adverse possession has faded. It is a law whose time has come and gone. As a country, we do not face starvation, and we no longer live in the wild west. Times have changed, needs have changed, society has changed. It is time for the law to change, too.

Because of this, both New York and Colorado have recently made substantive changes to their adverse possession laws. I suggest you read up on what they have changed and why. Obviously, this was not a trivial matter for these jurisdictions and their legislators. But, they did it because the people voiced their concern that current adverse possession statutes were outdated and in need of improvement. It is time for Washington to move beyond 1881 and catch up to today's standards.

If you have any other questions about adverse possession or why other people in Washington support House Bill 1026, please let me know.

Sincerely, Chris


What I've learned in talking with attorneys about the law (and yes... I've talked to A LOT of attorneys) is that there are basically two types of lawyers out there. Those who are great at knowing the law and reciting cases, and others who are great at thinking logically and are emotionally unbiased. I prefer the latter. We need logic and reason if society is to move forward. Appeals to history, appeals to authority, false dilemmas simply should not be used as legal justification. The law needs to be thought of as being alive. It changes and needs to change as society grows. I just wish there were more attorneys who applied logic and reason to their work, rather than who can just recite cases.

6 comments:

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  2. Someone who wants to abolish adverse possession is basically supporting the New World Order agenda of the banks who are globalizing the economy. Adverse possession makes it possible for the middle and lower classes to take and use land in a Good Faith manner. Since the vast majority of land is owned by a handful of super elite (seriously... follow the money trail), and since using land to sustain life is the absolute essential of living, you don't have freedom if you can't perform adverse possession. You are a slave. Complete abolishment of adverse possession amounts to support of slavery and the feudal system.

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  3. Comments on Adverse Possession from Chris (re Wash House Bill 1026): “Heck, can you imagine what our jails would be like if we still enforced "debtor's prison" today?”…and…”As a country, we do not face starvation, and we no longer live in the wild west.”

    Dear Chris, I am not certain what country you live in, but I live in the good ole USA.

    Where companies such as AT&T, PG&E, Kohl’s, and physicians falsify customer accounts and report them erroneously to the “Big Three” (who also violate CA HIPPA by reporting confidential health records).

    Where the rate of incarceration is 5 times that of any other country in the world and 3 times that of the Russian Federation (a country run by a former KGB Agent).

    Where other countries refuse to extradite alleged criminals to the USA because of the USA Civil Rights abuses.

    Where Unlawful Detainer Laws, which are unconstitutional by anyone’s standards, were upheld in 1974 by the US Supreme Court, with Justice Douglass dissenting vigorously (by the way, most jurists find the Unlawful Detainer Laws unconstitutional—is this a surprise?)

    I’m still looking for William F. Buckley’s Boston Phone Book so I can live in a country governed by the first 2,000 persons listed therein.

    I am writing this after having just been illegally and forcibly removed from my home of 15 years, without a sou, searching for food scraps, without access to my necessary possessions, and without my monthly check to get me through a long weekend, and having been forced to dress in front of 4 male sheriffs (I am an adult woman) in the process.

    Do you know the definition of “Police State?”

    Yours truly, Jean

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  4. A D can and do operate unfairly to the paper owner.But the basic cconcept of capitalism - equality of opportunity, is an economic fiction.So to is this implied concept by christ: this marxists utopian progression can never occur .Capitalism and all its faults have created this need.And christ please pay attention to the growth of negligence in morden law and the pervasiveness of capilalism in todays world.AD is one of those mitigating rules of law that makes capitalism sustainable.

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