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Star Chamber Justice

             The procedures in nearly all civil litigations  which pit  big
  corporations and big corporate law firms against small firms have
  undergone a quiet but insidious  counter-revolution.  This is especially
  true in antitrust where often small firms  complain against the
  anti-competitive behavior of the big monopolists.  
              The significant action in these cases  has been shifted to
  pre-trial discovery, motions and arguments.  The big firm pushes the
  envelope blatantly during the discovery phase.  Whatever gets by its
  purging of compromising documents is placed under seal without regard to
  the rules governing secrecy designations.  
               The big firm then routinely  moves for summary judgment
  because the small firm has not amassed enough evidence of wrong-doing.
  Overburdened lower court judges usually grant these motions because they
  don't want to go through a trial only to have it overturned upstairs. 
  The overburdened appellate courts then do their utmost to get rid of
  cases. Once the appeal fails,  the wrong-doings which did get past the
  discovery phase remain sealed allowing the big corporation to go on its
  merry way screwing the competition.
             Much of this is  new.  Nader has fulminated about it and even
  that left-wing Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist has denounced  this trend
  of adjudicating cases before a jury hears them.  The secrecy conditions
  of these determinative pretrial proceedings  have been less discussed for
  the obvious reason that there isn't much to discuss when everything is
             In addition,  what has escaped notice  is that this
  counter-revolution has in effect brought back Star Chamber proceedings. 
  The Star Chamber was a royal English court which was notorious for its
  secret sessions without jury and for its arbitrary judgments. It was
  abolished in 1641 during England's last revolution. Three hundred years
  later,  we are back as if Cromwell never happened,  except that absolute
  monarchy has been replaced by absolute monopoly power.