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This section provides a quick review of the underlying philosophy and principles of societies, governance and legal systems upon which our original and current legal system is grounded. It is always valuable to have a constant reminder of the ethical basis, role and purpose that we, as legal professionals, are attempting to live by and carry out in our profession and activities.


All social systems began as individuals and small groups living independently in a "state of nature". This natural state is simply described as that in which each individual lives by their own rules and those imposed upon them by their natural environment. Rulers, laws and a system of governance are non-existent. Many of these also incorporate a theological principle that may impart or allude to some external influence upon the individual's ability to survive and succeed but that is not a necessary component of natural states.


From pre-historic times to the present, the family has remained the most basic social unit. But families banded together early to enhance their chances of survival aiding each other in mutual defense from outside dangers, as well as to enhance their abilities to extract the necessary resources from their environment to survive (food gathering, hunting, water, shelter, defense, transportation, health care, and improvement of the gene pools).

As these bands grew in size, they became clans within which a division of labor sprung up. The leaders of such clans (later called tribes)were often selected by a process of trial by fire, combat superiority or hereditary lineage. Once tribes began to band together, they shared common languages, traditions, beliefs, territories, and inter-marriage. Such banded tribes identified themselves as nations or specific peoples. Throughout this societal evolution, the bonds that held its members together included certain common pillars upon which those societies rested and depended. Once of those foundations was some kind of legal or self-management process. It was necessary in any group since that group would have to have established rules that its members had to live by. Rules allow predictability for individuals who interact with one another. Rules lead to such conventions as a handshake, smile and salutation when first greeting a stranger. It is just as true today when millions of drivers in high speed vehicles are traveling on the nation's highways that each must expect certain constrained behavior from all the rest so that all may arrive safely at their various destinations.

When instances or events occurred, those rules needed to be enforced. It could have been through an individual (patriarch, chieftain, king, conqueror or other kind of leader) or through some form of ruling counsel. The fundamental need has been and always will be to have some form of implementation that is perceived of as fair and equitable to all within that society.

King Solomon also functioned as the judge in his time to his people and offerred to split the baby when two women both claimed to be the true baby's mother. His insight and wisdom solved that problem and the baby survived with its actual mother.

The present day concepts of fairness, equal justice and an ability to depend upon such a system to clearly enunciate the rules of the society and to enforce them is an irreplaceable characteristic for any form of legal system. It must be speedy, deliberative, open to the facts, and maintain its effectiveness to survive in such a form for generations. Once the members of that society have given up certain individual rights in order to co-exist in such a society (i.e., the social compact), they should never be taken for granted thereafter. This relinquishment of individual rights can be re-acquired peacefully if it does not deliver on its promise, as is provided for in our Constitution.

In our country, the rights of the individual are supposed to be carefully weighed against the rights of the rest of the people. We used to have a simple, but effective delineation of such occasionally troublesome and conflicting interests. But we now have developed an open court system, with well-educated judges, juries of peers, witnesses, the public news media, knowledgable lawyers and experts who can remain independent while carrying out their mandate of providing the triers of fact with the necessary information they need to make an informed judgment. Though these idealized roles can sometimes be attained, they are not always fully realized.

In our current state of nature, we have created many layers of modifiers to the original intent of the legal process. Rules and codes and laws abound. Various aspects of our legal environment are regulated by government. Sometimes justice and redress are arrived at and sometimes they are not. It is important to understand and revisit what we are all there for in a court room or a legal hearing of any other kind. Though we have an adversarial legal system in both its criminal law and civil law arms, we still need to strive for truth, fairness and a generally beneficial result to society as a whole. Those are the originally promised goals expected of and in the minds of any thinking member of our society.


The philosophers have expounded on this matter for the last several hundred years. It really amounts to a simple concept. When born into a true state of nature, outside of any society, we all behave in a way that we learn to make our own decisions, make our own choices, learn how to take from or use our environment to survive and generally do what living organisms do to survive individually and as a species.

Once we decide that it is better to form some kind of participatory society that does not involve enslavement, each member must now begin to weigh the needs of others against their own needs. In such an arrangement it is quite difficult to see how strife can be avoided if some mutually acceptable balance of interests is not found. Thus societies almost always come with the need for negotiation, trading interests, deal-making and compromise. Of course, the compromises can be 50-50 in a well-balanced, democratic society or 90-10 in an oppressive kind of society. A dictatorship could be described as a 100-0 uncompromising society with the dictator always getting their way and the subjects always oppressed and exploited.

The Social Compact is the tacit or overt act of agreeing to accept all the rules of the society one lives in and relinquishing a portion of one's individual freedoms and rights in exchange so others can be accomodated from time to time. Compromise is at the root of this concept.

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