Common Law for a Free Republic

England has an amazing tradition of common law. These are “the part of English law that is derived from custom and judicial precedent rather than statutes.” This has allowed England to be resilient, refining its governing laws based upon customs that change and morph, and adapting to them. As a result England’s common law goes back more than 1300 years, and these legal structures have allowed her to be one of the oldest monarchies on the planet.

In America we tend to be formulaic with our laws, emerging all as they do from our constitution and then codified and interpreted often without reference to “custom”. This is not necessarily a bad thing, for it does give America a unity of vision which England lacks. But the downside is that this at times makes our laws brittle and unbending, unable to stand when under extreme stress.

Below is an excerpt which I read from “The Burning of San Porfirio”, my 2nd novel. In the scene, Pancho – who has endured a lifetime of tribulation – stands at last on the Balcon del Pueblo, where Venezuela’s presidents rail against their enemies. But he does not stand there to declare a new regime which will become corrupted and eventually fall away. He announces the establishment of a new common law, a common law for a truly free republic.

I hope you enjoy!



About Joel D. Hirst

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and a playwright, author of four novels. The most recent is "I, Charles, From the Camps" about the life of a young man in the African camps. Other works include "Lords of Misrule", "The Lieutenant of San Porfirio" and its sequel "The Burning of San Porfirio".
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