Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Common Law’

16th July 2011

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me…

[F]amous statement attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.”

quoted directly from the official website of  Wikipedia, Wikipedia.org

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the former Secretary of Defense of the United States of America has been the subject of a so-called “enhanced patdown” (A.K.A grope down) administered by the TSA.  To quote directly from a very insightful article by Josh Rogin posted in The Cable on the official website of Foreign Policy, ForeignPolicy.com:

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was on the other side of the homeland security policies his administration helped to create today when he was held up and patted down at the airport after setting off the metal detectors on his way to board a flight…Rumsfeld was in Chicago to attend a panel and luncheon hosted by the Heritage Foundation and was on the way to Grand Rapids, MI to attend the funeral of Betty Ford, whom he called “one of America’s most beloved first ladies.”

This blogger asks readers to click on the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in full and thereby gain insight into what apparently happened.

In this blogger’s opinion, the news above elucidates the fundamental absurdity and ridiculousness of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as of late, especially in light of the United States Constitution’s 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.To provide poignant context it is again necessary to quote Wikipedia’s 4th Amendment entry:

“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.”

In what way is it reasonable to assume that groping a former Defense Secretary is reasonable while he is traveling to the funeral of a former First Lady? Where is the probable cause for this activity? Where is the warrant for such an invasion of Mr. Rumsfeld’s personal space? These events seem rather ironic since it was Mr. Bush’s administration that began these Constitutionally-suspect practices. However, that should not divert the reader’s attention from the severity of this state of affairs. At what point did it become reasonable to deny everyone their Constitutional right to be free from unwanted touching? Or, perhaps more specifically unwanted searches of persons without a warrant supported by probable cause? To provide further insight, it is necessary to quote from another section of Wikipedia discussing fundamental legal issues associated with the American Constitution:

The U.S. Declaration of Independence states that it has become necessary for the United States to assume “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them”. Some early American lawyers and judges perceived natural law as too tenuous, amorphous and evanescent a legal basis for grounding concrete rights and governmental limitations.[3] Natural law did, however, serve as authority for legal claims and rights in some judicial decisions, legislative acts, and legal pronouncements.[66] Robert Lowry Clinton argues that the U.S. Constitution rests on a common law foundation and the common law, in turn, rests on a classical natural law foundation.[67]

This quotation above is important because it demonstrates the reason for the very existence of the 4th Amendment itself. Namely: to codify extremely important, yet utterly subtle natural rights. The founders were well aware of the fact some natural rights are so inherent to the very fiber of We The People‘s being that they are (under the weight of occasionally specious yet tempting legal reasoning) sometimes subject to being taken for granted by dint of their almost ethereal nature.

Readers are asked to bear the above in mind as this blogger feels compelled to quote directly from the website of My Fox New York, MyFoxNY.com:

[A] Colorado woman is accused of putting her hands on a TSA agent at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Court records show 61-year-old Yukari Mihamae grabbed the left breast of the female agent Thursday at the Terminal 4 checkpoint…Mihamae now faces a felony count of sexual abuse. According to court records, she lives in Longmont, Colorado and is self-employed…

Readers are asked to click upon the hyperlinks above to read this article in detail. It is also necessary to point out that the woman in question noted above is innocent until proven guilty of any charge under American law and the American justice system’s adherence to Blackstone’s Formulation. That said, it will, no doubt, be interesting to ascertain the facts surrounding this incident since the lead-up to this incident may, at the least, provide context. Travel is stressful to begin with and, in this blogger’s opinion, such stress is only compounded by the duress which arises with the prospect of an invasive pat-down and the insistence, with little legal foundation, that such a pat-down be imposed.

In a somewhat startling turn of similar events it would appear that a woman in the sovereign State of Tennessee has been subjected to arrest as a result of an incident involving the TSA. In order to provide further insight on these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the Mail Online website at DailyMail.co.uk:

A mother has been arrested after refusing to let her child be searched by a TSA agent. Andrea Fornella Abbott, 41, was arrested at Nashville International Airport on Saturday after telling agents she did not want her daughter to be ‘touched inappropriately’ or have her ‘crotch grabbed,’ according to a police report. Mrs Abbott acted ‘belligerent and verbally abusive to staff’, yelling and swearing at them, according to the report. Police said after the woman refused to calm down she was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to read the totality of this report. Readers are reminded that those arrested in the United States of America are, as noted previously, viewed in the eyes of the law as innocent until proven guilty.
A wiser person than this blogger once wryly noted that even in matters pertaining to the law it is imprudent to attempt to try to interpose between a mother and a child whom the mother believes may be in distress. Such interposition may be especially imprudent if not fully backed by the Full Faith and Credit of American law. With that in mind it recently came to this blogger’s attention that Member of the United States House of Representatives, Representative Ron Paul, recently announced what would appear to be the re-introduction of a bill that could ameliorate some of the duress currently being borne by innocent Americans. To quote directly from the official website of Representative Paul:

Mr. Speaker, today I introduce legislation to protect Americans from physical and emotional abuse by federal Transportation Security Administration employees conducting screenings at the nation’s airports. We have seen the videos of terrified children being grabbed and probed by airport screeners. We have read the stories of Americans being subjected to humiliating body imaging machines and/or forced to have the most intimate parts of their bodies poked and fondled. We do not know the potentially harmful effects of the radiation emitted by the new millimeter wave machines. In one recent well-publicized case, a TSA official is recorded during an attempted body search saying, “By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights.” I strongly disagree and am sure I am not alone in believing that we Americans should never give up our rights in order to travel. As our Declaration of Independence states, our rights are inalienable. This TSA version of our rights looks more like the “rights” granted in the old Soviet Constitutions, where freedoms were granted to Soviet citizens — right up to the moment the state decided to remove those freedoms…Imagine if the political elites in our country were forced to endure the same conditions at the airport as business travelers, families, senior citizens, and the rest of us. Perhaps this problem could be quickly resolved if every cabinet secretary, every Member of Congress, and every department head in the Obama administration were forced to submit to the same degrading screening process as the people who pay their salaries…

The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this announcement in detail. The legislation to which Representative Paul so passionately refers would appear to be the so-called American Traveller Dignity Act of 2010 or H.R. 6416 which provides that:

No law of the United States shall be construed to confer any immunity for a Federal employee or agency or any individual or entity that receives Federal funds, who subjects an individual to any physical contact (including contact with any clothing the individual is wearing), x-rays, or millimeter waves, or aids in the creation of or views a representation of any part of a individual’s body covered by clothing as a condition for such individual to be in an airport or to fly in an aircraft. The preceding sentence shall apply even if the individual or the individual’s parent, guardian, or any other individual gives consent.

This administration asks readers to click upon the links above to read about the totality of this information. In the interest of full disclosure to the reader it must be confessed that these pat-downs are not just the source of academic annoyance for this blogger as he was recently the victim of one of these “pat-downs”. When this blogger inquired as to the authority for the search especially in light of the Right to travel enshrined in the provisions of the 14th Amendment and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures without due process of law in the form of a warrant supported by probable cause pursuant to the 4th Amendment this blogger was told that such notions were subordinate to some amorphous and never-fully-explained (supposedly posted, but this blogger never actually saw them since no one was willing to provide them) “federal regulations”. This blogger does not have any particular issue with federal regulations per se as they are often the legitimate by-product of legitimate law-making, but they never can contravene Constitutional law as Constitutional law and the protections of the Bill of Rights can only act to override the provisions of federal regulation; and only then, when certain regulations offend the rightful liberties of the American People.

With respect to the this blogger’s opinion regarding his recent “enhanced pat-down” it can only be said that whatever my “enhanced pat-down” was, it certainly did not feel like the legitimate operation of a supreme government. Therefore, I shall look toward remedies for this issue and the most effective remedies appear to be awaiting at either the ballot box or perhaps one day upon the desk of the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. With respect to the Several States it should be noted that some such as Texas and Michigan may be discussing the the promulgation of State law with respect to involuntary touching at relevant airports. How State legislation of this variety would impact American jurisprudence especially in light of notions such as the Erie Doctrine remains to be seen, but it may merely remain an interesting point to speculate upon.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

– Benjamin Walter Hart

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22nd November 2009

In many ways, the laws of the Kingdom of Thailand and those of the United States of America are very similar, but in some ways these two systems are extremely different. For example, the Kingdom of Thailand has a Civil Registrar’s office also known as an Amphur office, or Amphoe Office, in Thai. These offices act as repositories of vital statistics of those living  in the Kingdom. They are important because one must register many official documents with this office in order to be provided certain legal protections. A common example of the duties associated with the Amphur office are those associated with a Thai marriage registration. An Amphur can register a Thai marriage in a very short period of time compared to jurisdictions in the United States of America. In some cases, this could also be said about Thai divorces. If a couple has decided to simply divorce by consent, then it is relatively simple to register the divorce in Thailand. However, if the divorce is contested, then there may be problems executing a marital dissolution quickly. In a slightly different situation, if one of the parties to the marriage cannot be found, then it may be difficult to register a divorce because the Amphur office requires that both parties be present when the divorce is registered.

Assuming one must use the courts to dissolve the marriage, the Thai legal system treats divorce similar to the “fault” based system employed by some jurisdictions in the United States. A “fault” divorce system compels the parties to show cause as to why the marriage should be dissolved. The unfortunate consequence of this system is the fact that “fault” divorces take a substantially longer period of time to complete compared to the “no fault” system. The reason for the delay is due, in part, to the large case load of most Thai courts. However, once the Thai court has entered a judgment of marital dissolution, the case is not over. Instead, the divorce judgment must still be registered at the Amphur office.

Registration of Thai divorces at a local Amphur office is somewhat akin to having the Clerk of a “common law” Court record the divorce judgment. This puts the jurisdiction on notice that the dissolution has occurred. The major difference is the fact that a clerk is generally in the same courthouse as the Judge who executed the marital dissolution. In Thailand, one must proceed to a wholly different office, the Amphur, in order to finalize the divorce by having the Amphur officer record the dissolution.

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17th October 2009

The law of trusts has been a component of the common law system for many years. Under the common law system the idea of title was bifurcated into legal title and equitable title. Under this system, one could hold legal title to real estate or property while equitable title was held by another. This made it possible to circumvent legal mechanisms such as probate or avoid certain types of taxation. Many Expats who originate in common law countries mistakenly believe that this concept can be applied in Thailand. Unfortunately, Thai law does not codify the idea of trust law and as a result business and property structures should probably not be based upon such concepts.

In England many years ago, two courts came about to deal with civil and criminal issues. At first there were the courts of law where cases could be heard. However, there were many instances where the courts of law could not effectively deal with some matters. Therefore, a Court of the King’s Conscience was established and certain cases were resolved in this “court of equity.” Trust law evolved from this bifurcation of equity and law. One could hold equitable title in the court of equity, but not hold legal title in the court of law. Often, the result was to the advantage of the holder of equitable title because it allowed him to enjoy the benefits of the property without the burdens of legal ownership (most notably taxation). In countries where the common law system became the law of the land, these principles of equitable and legal title were passed on. As a result, in many common law countries today, the idea of nominee shareholders is a commonly accepted method of maintaining control of a business or property interest. Also, controlling a trust that owns land is a common method of lawfully avoiding taxes.

In countries that did not adhere to common law principles, the notion of equitable and legal title is somewhat foreign and often not recogized as a legitimate method of property ownership. In Thailand, which utilizes a civil code legal system, trusts and equity are not regarded as mutually exclusive methods of property ownership. Although similar concepts such as usufructs, superficies, and escrows exist, for the most part Thailand does not recognize many equitable concepts. A case in point is the Thai view of nominee shareholders. Nominees are strictly forbidden under statutes passed by the Thai parliament (while the definition of nominee is left somewhat vague). Further, nominees are viewed with extra hostility where they are being utilized for the purpose of maintaining control of a Thai company to own land.

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10th May 2009

On weekends, we try (sometimes successfully) to add a bit of character to this blog by discussing things of a more general interest than Thailand Law or issues from the perspective of a US Immigration lawyer in Thailand. This post looks at legal history from jurisprudence promulgated as far back as ancient Mesopotamia to laws still on the books today.

The Code of Hammurabi

Hammurabi’s code acts as an early example of legal codes enacted in modern day Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Hammurabi’s code was somewhat draconian by today’s standards, but it is important because it is one of the first recorded systems of law in the world. Hammurabi was a King in ancient Babylon who decided that Babylonians needed some form of law in order to form a more efficient society.

This code is interesting because the code’s legitimacy is based upon Hammurabi’s assertion that he was spoken to by the gods and ordered to create a system of laws in his realm. In a preface to his legal code he states: “Anu and Bel called by name: me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land.

The code of Hammurabi is especially notable for its “eye for an eye” method of dispensing justice. An example of this tit for tat legal reasoning can be seen in may sections of the code including this one:

“If a Builder build a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built fall in and kill its owner, then that builder shall be put to death.”

I would not have been a carpenter or contractor in Hammurabi’s Babylon, the liability implications would have been too steep.

Roman Law

Of all the inheritances the Romans bequeathed on modern civilization, Roman law may be the bequest that has had the most impact down to the present day. Many of the Latin terms used in many countries to this day have their roots in Roman jurisprudence. From a practical standpoint, Roman law held firm sway over modern day western Europe until the end of the Emperor Justinian’s reign in roughly 530 AD. However, Roman law still had an indirect impact upon western Europe trough the Byzantine Empire, which continued the Roman legal tradition (albeit in the Greek language) until the mid 1400′s when Constantinople was finally sacked by the Ottoman Turks. Terms such as stare decisis and habeus corpus are still widely used in legal texts around the globe.

Common Law


The common law is the system of law used in England and spread throughout the world as the English commenced rapid and expansive colonization during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. One of the major legal documents of the common law system is the Magna Carta imposed upon King John of England by his own Barons in an effort to curtail the powers of the Throne. The common law is distinguishable from the civil law system by the fact that the common law places a great deal of weight behind the previous decisions of judges. Whereas Civil law countries seem to place more weight behind the findings of legal scholars.

The common law is currently practiced and enforced in the following countries: United Kingdom, United States, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Pakistan (to name only some).

Napoleonic Code

The Napoleonic code was created and enacted at the behest of Emperor Napoleon I of France. It is often heralded as one of the greatest legal achievements in history because the code went far in instilling a tradition of the rule of law on the continent of Europe (with reverberations throughout the whole world as a result of colonization). Before the French Revolution the legal system of France was based upon a patchwork system of local customs and special privileges based upon prior royal decrees and dispensations. The system was very inefficient and confusing to the common people. The legal system of the ancien regime was also manipulated by the upper classes for their own benefit often at the expense of the lower and middle class. The Napoleonic Code represented a codified system of laws applicable to everyone equally (except for maybe Napoleon himself). It spread throughout Europe following in the wake of the Emperor’s successes on the battlefield and as a result the Napoleonic Code would undergird Continental jurisprudence long after French Armies returned to France.

An interesting side note regarding the Napoleonic Code involves the State of Louisiana. Although it is part of the United States, Louisiana has a French and Spanish legal tradition due to the fact that it was once a colonial possession of both Spain and France. Louisiana law is based heavily upon Roman legal tradition, but it was also influenced by the Napoleonic legal tradition. To this day, Louisiana has a very different legal system than any of the other 49 US states and as a result the Louisiana bar examination is one of the more difficult in America.

Thanks for Reading!

Please see:

K1 Visa Thailand or

Fiance Visa Thailand for information about US Immigration options for Thai Nationals

(Please note that nothing contained in this article creates a lawyer-client relationship between reader and author. Also, nothing contained herein should be used in substitute for legal advice from a competent lawyer.)

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