Sunday, January 30, 2011


What if there were no police as we know them, just judges, and bailiffs to keep order in the court, and sheriffs (and their deputies) to enforce court orders. The state could and should keep an investigative force on hand as a public good, but without exclusive access to the judicial system. It’s not worth it for me to hire a PI to hunt down the mutant who lifted my wallet with $20 and an expired library card in it, but it is in the interest of the public that he <i>be</i> hunted down; and the indigent victim of rape should have recourse – but the ordinary citizen would have the same powers and limitations of the public investigators, and vice versa. Perhaps we could have a “volunteer” patrol department, in the manner of a volunteer EMS or fire department; neighborhood watch writ large… You’d probably still need a traffic enforcement arm of the local government, but similar to many cities’ parking enforcement, they could only issue summons to court, and would not be officers of the investigative force. As with any other citizen they could act to enforce other laws broken in their presence, but would have no special power or responsibility to do so. (

Think of things that way, and the 4th amendment becomes … interesting.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

What if this isn’t just a right of The People against the Government, but of individuals against other individuals? It’s not too much of a stretch. After all, this is a Government of The People. Contrariwise, why must I have to apply to the police for them to obtain a warrant instead of being able to apply to a magistrate for one myself? (Though, in that case, the wise magistrate would send along a sheriff or deputy to ensure that the terms of the warrant are not violated, and that there is a “neutral” observer).

Too utopian?

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