Friday, February 06, 2015

Should Cincinnati neighborhoods establish their own courts ?

In 13th to 16th & maybe 17th century Germany, it was pretty lawless if you went outside your nobleman's territory. The empire wasn't doing so hot in bringing these rogues to justice so a system of courts using lay judges was established, The Vehmic court or as Thomas Keightley referred to them in his 1837 book, Secret Societies of the Middle Ages, The Secret Tribunals Of Westphalia.
The lay judges would travel around, announce their presence & schedule a trial date and the townsfolk could bring their grievances to the court members who would subpoena the accused, sometimes with a document stuck to their door with a dagger, and hold hearings, then dispense justice. Sometimes it was repayment, sometimes, in lieu of a prison system, it was corporal but it was dispensed immediately. Finding a location with a good stout tree was handy for shade and in dealing with capital offenses.
I'm not suggesting the traveling show system but perhaps an extension of the Cincinnati Community Council system. Neighborhood parks could be used. The punishments would be public and send a clear message. Perhaps incarceration could be done using neighborhood recreation centers or, in more blighted neighborhoods, abandoned buildings.
This system could have two fold benefits. It would speed up the justice process and it would relieve the police & county courts of some of their burden, saving them time and money.
The 21st century affords us the opportunity to go all medieval. Besides bringing communities together, this could also be seen as a connection to our German heritage. It would simply be a win win solution for everybody. Well, almost everybody.

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