By separating valid claims from invalid ones, judges can finally give our legal system the predictability that it requires.
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A few weeks ago 13-year-old Matthew Migliaccio was sued for an errant throw that hit a spectator at a Little League game in Manchester Township, New Jersey. The incident occurred in May 2010, when as an 11-year-old catcher -- warming up a pitcher in the designated bullpen area of the field -- Migliaccio overthrew his target and opened the door to legal liability.
In America, there's no such thing as an accident without a lawsuit -- even apparently if the victim chose freely to sit five feet from a child throwing projectiles. This incident is just the kind of example that fuels the public perception that the legal system in America is available for any ordinary life risk gone awry, even if it means forcing a 13-year-old to hire a lawyer.
What's missing in American justice is a way to draw a legal line between a valid claim and an invalid claim. To feel free, people need courts to act as gatekeepers of right and wrong. Juries don't have the authority to set legal precedent, and only render verdicts after years of litigation. The only cure is this: Judges must take the responsibility to make legal rulings of who can claim what. Those rulings can set precedent, be rationalized by appeals, and provide the predictability that is the very essence of the Rule of Law.