Maxims of Law Help Assure Justice -
Their Absence Assures Injustice
by Shane Flait (2011)
It’s important for each of us that court
processes are fair – fair to litigants
or defendants. Our founding fathers
understood how courts can become corrupt
and rule to their own best interests and
for their benefactors. That’s why they
insisted that a jury – as representative
of the public – was essential in any
legal action where substantial money or
rights were at stake.
But whether or not a jury is present, a
court’s processes and deliberations
should adhere to the Maxims of Law to
help assure fairness and justice also.
When the Maxims are ignored, courts are
surely serving something other than
justice. Here are key Maxims to know.
Maxims represent self-evident truths
that all reasonable persons would
recognize. An example is that all men
(including women) are created equal.
That means each of us has a right to be
treated equally under law – not that we
have the same physical or mental
abilities. If we saw that one person is
not afforded the legal rights of another
in the court process, we’d recognize
that injustice was occurring.
We expect the courts to abide by the
Maxims as evidence that they’re
promoting fair dealings and unbiased
judgments - which is the purpose of the
courts. So, courts should use Maxims to
help guide their determinations in the
same way as geometers use its axioms.
Courts judgments are to adhere to either
a specific law or to what is fair if no
specific law addresses the issue. Such
determinations refer to ‘in law’ and ‘in
equity’ actions, respectively. An ‘in
equity’ determination would be how
assets should be divided among husband
and wife at divorce. In the U.S.¸ a
single civil court can combine both
equity and law determinations. All
criminal cases are ‘at law’.
The ‘common law’ tradition in the U.S.
refers to relying on previous judgments
decided by Appeals courts when a judge
in a trial court determines his
judgment. Of course such precedent
judgments should reflect the wisdom of
time and incorporate the Maxims of law.
Now let’s see some key Maxims of law so
you’ll recognize when they’re operating
or not in a court action whether ‘in
law’ or ‘in equity’. Law principles are
not mysterious; they should be obvious
to reasonable persons. If they’re not,
something is wrong.
Key Maxims of Law to know
No one is punished unless for some wrong
act or fault on his part.
appear punitive must come from faults or
wrong acts that warrant such punishment
- as judged by reasonable persons.
Law is unjust where it is uncertain or
vague in its meaning.
reasonable person should know when he’s
breaking a law since violating it brings
consequence on him. Vague laws are a
tyranny to reasonable persons. They’re
unconstitutional for that.
- No one should be believed except upon
A witness must be sworn in to give testimony so he can be charged
with perjury - a felony (a serious
crime) – if later found to be
intentionally lying. No ‘swearing in’
means no perjury can be charged.
-Perjured witnesses must be punished for
perjury and for crimes they falsely
accuse others of.
Punishing perjury enforces truth in
testimony. Without truth, there can be
-The burden of proof lies on him who asserts the fact – not on him
who denies it.
This is based on the fact that you can’t
prove a negative. As an example, if
someone asserts you have money to pay
him, and you don’t, then it’s the
asserter that must prove you have money.
It’s not for you to prove you don’t have
it. It’s the same with threatening or
- The certainty of a thing arises only from making a thing certain.
This implies that the court should seek
clear proof of allegations made against
someone and not rule on just the
allegations or weakly supported ones.
-No man should profit by his own wrong.
Courts should not
reward litigants who are responsible for
the wrong brought before the court. An
extreme case is the child that pleads
mercy because he’s an orphan – but only
because he murdered his parents.
- It’s natural that he who bears the charge of a thing, should
receive the profits.
To the extent you bare the obligation
for something is the extent to which you
should receive its benefits. Only slaves
have obligations without benefits.
-He who uses his legal rights harms no one.
Protecting oneself in the legal process
should not be considered a wrong to be
punished by the court.
-The safety of the people cannot be
judged but by the safety of every
Laws which supposedly protect the safety of some people at the
expense of other people’s rights violate
this maxim. Such laws don’t create
safety but tyranny.
Actions at law with judicial processes
that ignore these Maxims are not just.
In fact, they represent purposeful
injustice to a litigant. Such a court
process is a sham to benefit special
interests and not justice. Judges who
participate in them commit treason.
Shane Flait is a writer and educator