On January 20, 2022, Judge David Lampe gave a presentation to a civics group on the Common Law.
Judge Lampe prefaced his presentation with an explanation of how he developed an interest in becoming a lawyer and his continuing fascination with and interest in the Common Law.
He continued by explaining that the Common Law is a body of doctrine which formed the law administered in America as settled from England and the later development of that law in America down
to modern times. In short, our legal system in the United States. The Common Law is a statement of the rights, powers, duties, remedies and crimes derived from the common courts of justice in England and
America, as distinguished from legislative or statutory laws. It is a traditional technique of finding the grounds for deciding controversies by applying to them principles drawn from recorded judicial experience. It is not a set of fixed rules established at any fixed time or by any determinate authority. It is characterized by the doctrines of precedent, supremacy of law and trial by jury.
Judge Lampe reviewed the origin and evolution of the Common Law in England from the time of Alfred the Great, who ruled England from 871 to 899, to modern times, including the development of the
adversarial process, the formalization of courts and the process of deciding controversies by juries, judges and the doctrine of precedent. He also covered the spread of the Common Law to other parts of
the world as the British Empire was forming, including America. He briefly discussed how the Common Law works and who uses it before asking the question: “What do people think of the Common Law?” He
answered the question by stating that basically, people hate it. So, why have it? Because it is a guard against the arbitrary use of power, without which no one would be safe.
In defense of the Common Law, Judge Lampe concluded by suggesting that the Common Law has had great failings and countenanced many injustices. It is cumbersome, expensive, frequently illogical and
slow to affect change toward greater justice. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, the Common Law is the worst judicial system in the world—except for all of the others. To reinforce his defense of the Common
Law, he highlighted examples of some who would have replaced the Common Law with other systems: Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Mao and others—people responsible for the mass murders of literally millions of
innocent people. All exercising an arbitrary use of power. Certainly, a huge compelling reason for the retention of the Common Law as our legal system.
Following a question-and-answer period, the members thanked Judge Lampe for his excellent
If you are interested in having Judge Lampe speak to your group, please contact us.