Photo of Stephen McConnell

To keep the DDL blog up and running even through the dog days of Summer, your trusted correspondents try to stagger their vacations.  Bexis recently got back from his typically Hemingway-esque adventure, and now it’s our turn.  Unlike Bexis, if we go hiking anywhere, it is more likely in pursuit of beer or chocolate, not vistas or grizzly bears.  Here are some legal clues to help you play the game of Where in the World is Stevie Mac:

  • An entity that calls itself the World Justice Project purports to rank national legal systems in terms of clarity, effectiveness, accessibility, judicial independence, absence of corruption, etc.  Their rankings place mostly Nordic countries at the top (Denmark is number 1).  Venezuela is number 102 out of 102, edging out Afghanistan for the honor of being the very worst legal system under consideration.  The United States is ranked a not-so-impressive number 19.  Folks, on our vacation, we will be walking the cobbled streets of a top 5 country.
  • Where we are headed, civil law, not case law, governs.
  • Judges are appointed civil servants with life tenure.
  • There is not much opportunity to argue forum non conveniens, but, given the other aspects of this eminently rational system, that is probably not a big deal.
  • Class actions are unheard of, though some groupings of actions are occasionally available.
  • There are no juries.
  • Repeat:  there are no juries.
  • There are no punitive damages.
  • Repeat … well, you get it.
  • Judges, not parties, determine whether expert testimony is needed.  (Thus, the opportunities for unscrupulous experts to sell their result-driven opinions are minimized.  That is kind of surprising, considering how this country is otherwise amazingly tolerant of prostitution.)
  • This country is one of the two most liberal on the planet when it comes to allowing euthanasia.  You have probably heard how some American states, such as Oregon and Vermont, are way ahead in permitting people with terminal diseases to end their lives with dignity. But our vacation destination occupies a whole other moral-legal universe when it comes to suicide.  It gives the okay to people who want to exit this vale of tears simply because they are really, really depressed.  If that were the rule in our home Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the hearses would be constantly rolling during baseball season.  Plus, the ranks of defense hacks would be decimated after every latest high court babbling on product liability.

Given all those legal goodies in this happy land (yes- it is also top 10 in the world happiness ranking; the USA is number 15), it makes us feel feckless here for begging for punitive damages caps, reminding courts to apply Daubert, and pining for Lone Pine orders.  And even with those modest goals, we feel we
are tilting at windmills.

Anyway, those clues should be more than enough for you.  Whether or not your Summer vacation took or takes you to a venue blessed by the World Justice Project, we trust that it was or will be splendid.