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You’re Welcome

February 24, 2020

You’re welcome, America. I’m always happy when I’ve inspired a mass movement.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

You’re welcome, America. I’m always happy when I’ve inspired a mass movement.

Me, in this column, last July: “If you don’t like the way things are going in this country, you need to move.”

A New York Times opinion piece this month: “People leaving the Golden State are changing the political makeup of the states they move to.”

If I weren’t so humble, I’d admit to being a visionary.

Keep on moving.

By the way, I’ve also inspired a new labor movement. Last year I told you that corporations would suddenly come to love class actions if employees filed for arbitration en masse.

Sure enough, a federal judge in California has ruled that — surprise! — Doordash,  Inc. has to honor the arbitration clauses it got 5,010 drivers to agree to.

From the ruling: “DoorDash never expected that so many would actually seek arbitration. Instead, in irony upon irony, DoorDash now wishes to resort to a class-wide lawsuit, the very device it denied to the workers, to avoid its duty to arbitrate. This hypocrisy will not be blessed, at least by this order.”

The next development in employment law will be corporations insisting that workers agree to file class actions.

Or corporations will file class actions against their employees. It never hurts to strike first.

Elementary discipline. Lawyers and judges can learn a lot from elementary school. Yes, I know, most lawyers and judges went to elementary school and presumably learned things there, but what I mean is they can learn to use elementary school techniques.

For example, the other day reported that a judge ordered a lawyer to write two sentences 25 times as part of a punishment for contempt.

The website described this as “Bart Simpson-esque punishment.” That, of course, is inaccurate reporting — Bart Simpson has to remain standing and write on a chalkboard. The lawyer here got to sit down and use paper.

Still, the repetition punishment does seem to be an effective elementary school technique for courtrooms. It promotes learning and discourages misbehavior.

Courts should be using more school techniques.

For example, misbehaving lawyers can be sent to the principal’s office.

Some of you may be thinking that courts don’t have principals. OK, that’s probably true, but they should. Every court must hire someone with the ability to glare balefully and threaten to call parents.

Gold stars for good behavior are a wonderful incentive — particularly with the prospect of trading stars for candy. Imagine the tactical advantage of standing in front of a jury with your forehead covered by stickers.

Judges can also threaten to take away stars for bad behavior.

Another important technique: Make the miscreants stand in a corner. To avoid prejudice, this can be done after the jury is dismissed — but during lunch or recess. Punishment must be meaningful.

There’s also the prospect of canceling recess. That’s enough to make anyone behave.

Categories / Op-Ed

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