The Teachings of Modern Christianity on Law, Politics, and Human Nature - Vol. 1

By John Witte Jr.; Frank S. Alexander | Go to book overview

Foreword

THE LEDGERS ARE found in the defendant's apartment. They record sales and cash receipts and show what is still owing. Who kept them cannot be established. An expert testifies that they are the kind of ledgers kept by drug dealers. Are these anonymous annotations admissible evidence to show the business carried on in the apartment?

The shipyard thinks the boiler bolts look like new and need no replacement, although the bolts are three years old and the owner's manual says they should be replaced every two years. The shipyard does not mention the manual to the ship's captain, who has his own copy of it. The bolts are not replaced. The boiler bursts, severely damaging the ship. By contract, the shipyard is liable only for gross negligence. Is not mentioning the manual's recommendation to the captain a matter of gross negligence?

An alcoholic young man from Chicago believes he can smuggle marijuana from Canada into Montana. He has no knowledge of the terrain. He is caught at once with seventy-eight pounds of the drug. He has no criminal record. The judge classifies his conduct as “aberrant” and on that basis sentences him to home confinement rather than to prison. The law defines “aberrant” as conduct “temporary in duration and not requiring significant planning,” carried out by one whose life is “otherwise law abiding.” Must an appellate court reverse the judge's finding of aberrant and compel a prison sentence?

These cases, drawn from the day's work, are representative of the kinds of cases with which American judges deal. It is not immediately obvious how any of them can be decided by looking at the teachings of modern Christianity about human nature. In the first case, the answer depends on whether evidence as to a place unfairly prejudices the person living in the place: Is it the man being tried, or his apartment? In the second, the question is whether the shipyard has a duty to tell the captain what he could

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