First, let me say, that none of the following is to be construed as legal
advice. If you have a specific legal issue or question, please contact
an attorney immediately.
That being said, there is an old principle in the law most famously professed
by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. that "ignorance of the law
is no excuse." We, as citizens of the United States, are expected
to understand and comprehend the full extent of our constitutional rights
and the boundaries of the law.
However, as this country grows more complex, and technology and business
change the way we interact with one another, both personally and professionally,
the law has also changed and grown to a level of difficulty that I highly
doubt Justice Holmes could have imagined. Yet, we are still charged by
the rule of law with understanding even the most technical of statutes,
such as the Sarbanese-Oxley Act or the Gramm - Leach - Bliley Act.
The proposition seems almost absurd in today's world, but it is a reality.
What takes an attorney three (3) years of law school, a 2 ½ day
bar exam, and a lifetime of practical experience to understand is to a
degree the level of knowledge that is required of today's pro se citizen.
The point is that the legal system is difficult to navigate, and I want
to encourage people to seek an attorney with which they are comfortable
and whom they trust.
Case-in-point, the U.S. Constitution - the root of the rule of law in this
country: in high school and even college, most people learned how it was
formed, and why it was formed, but few have spent the hours studying the
document and the corresponding federal court decisions that have interpreted
those sacred words to protect our civil liberties and apply to our everyday lives.
For instance, a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has limited the constitutional
right to remain silent to only those individuals who outwardly assert
it. Therefore, it is no longer enough to simply "remain silent,"
instead an individual in the custody of law enforcement must actively
invoke his right to remain silent before it is deemed by the courts to apply.
In another case, the Supreme Court has ruled that a criminal defendant,
in a possession of illegal substances case, has the 6th Amendment right
to confront and cross-exam the laboratory technician responsible for testing
the substance and confirming its illegality. In fact, before the State
can admit the chemical drug test report in such a case, the technician
responsible for testing must be called to testify. The "catch"
is that the defendant must assert his or her right and demand that the
technician be available to testify before the Supreme Court's decision
is even applicable to his or her case.
Ultimately, the goal of the articles to follow is to help the reader become
better acquainted with the legal system, and to understand and comprehend
more fully the nature and extent of his or her civil liberties under the
The topics that I have decided to research and write on include "Senate
Bill 5 and its implications on the Right to Contract and First Amendment
Right to Association", "The Jurisdiction of the Courts: Where
is My Case Being Heard?", and "Pulled Over: What are My Rights."
The next article will examine a very controversial piece of legislation
that may affect many individuals in this community and around the State
of Ohio - House Bill 159. This piece of legislation was introduced alongside
Governor Kasich's budget proposal and is currently pending in the
Ohio Senate. The most unfortunate aspect of the bill is that it seeks
to make Ohio's voter identification laws the most restrictive in the
But that is for another discussion.