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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bill of Rights: Void Where Prohibited By Ruwarchy


The Liberator Online

Volume 10, Number 15 | August 9, 2005


"Could libertarian courts compel witnesses to appear?"

QUESTION: "The U.S. Constitution (Sixth Amendment) affords a criminal defendant 'compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor.' All of the 'deep libertarian thinkers' I personally know agree this violates the core libertarian principle of non-aggression. However, none of them can think of a libertarian solution. I'd like to hear you tackle this tough question. Thanks."

MY SHORT ANSWER: In a libertarian society, you wouldn't be able to compel testimony. However, libertarian courts would operate differently than the ones of today, making witnesses much more likely to cooperate voluntarily.

For example, a witness today is expected to come to court and sit through multiple delays before taking the stand, usually without compensation for lost work time. If the witness is threatened by the defendant's friends, he or she is unlikely to receive adequate police protection except in high profile cases. Testifying represents a net loss, sometimes substantial, to a witness.

In a libertarian society, a witness might be fully compensated for lost work time and given protection by a crime victim or that victim's insurance company. After the conviction of the aggressor, these costs would be added to the restitution that the aggressor would incur. Loans would likely be available for victims without insurance or the ability to front such costs. Upon conviction of the aggressor, the lending fees would be added to the restitution.

As you can see, aggressors in a libertarian society would have hefty debts to pay. Hopefully, they would be caught in the early phase of their criminal "career" so that they would learn the true cost of their aggression at an early age and decide that crime doesn't pay. This is exactly what happens in Japan, where the aggressor must negotiate a restitution settlement with the victim. For details, see Chapter 13 of the 2003 edition of my book Healing Our World, available from The Advocates.)