An interesting hole in our legal system and societyThe whole idea of being “civilized” is very basic philosophically, but what exactly makes us civilized and when did we get there? While historians likely date this back to the actual definition of “civilization” and to the settlement of early humans, the connotation we use much more likely falls to the way in which our modern society works today and only within its bounds: Law and order, international peace treaties, diplomatic solutions, they all will fall under the average person’s connotation, but when did “our” interpretation of being civilized begin? One of the foundational pieces of our country, as well as what we would call the civilized world, would be our legal system and the fair representation we receive upon the need to enter it. Whether we look back to Greek trial juries and Roman jury-like tribunals or merely look at us today, this representative legal system is an essential peace to the civilized status and orderliness of society that we have today. In some cases, the ethics that this type of system represents forms the main case against hot-button political issues such as interrogation or the death penalty. However, how does something that has just faded out of the mind come into play when put up against our great legal system? For historians of the medieval and dark ages or big fans of HBO’s A Game of Thrones, the old idea of trials by combat, or a legal based battle to the death, is somewhat appealing. At the basic level, trial by combats were based around the religious idea that the defendant would win the death match if he was not guilty by divine intervention and would lose if he was guilty. This was generally employed more in cases where there was a lack of evidence on both sides, however you would hold the right to ask for the right to trial by combat. But our world today is far too civilized to let anything like that happen, well, we think it is at least. There have been several motions for a trial by combat in court over America’s history however have generally been denied as dueling is outlawed in the United States. However, dueling is not a legal matter it’s a personal one and, by the same standards, we could say that forcing someone to go somewhere is illegal but they can be charged with contempt of court if they don’t show up since it’s a legal matter. In addition, the US split from Britain after the Revolutionary War before trial by combat was outlawed in Britain, and as we copied a lot of legal ground from them, it is highly debated whether or not this makes trial by combat legal in the United States today. Adam Winkler states it very well when he says that “The Ninth Amendment says that the enumeration of certain rights in the Constitution does not mean that the people don’t have other rights too.” While many could say that this idea violates other parts of the Constitution such as cruel and unjust punishment, the founding fathers did have duels themselves which could signify that they intended options like this to remain legal in the country. While the majority of legal experts consider it to be a legal anomaly that would never pass in court, a judge has recently reviewed the issue and concluded it as completely legal. A State Supreme Court Justice Philip G. Minardo ruled that while he would not end a case about allegations against a Staten Island attorney in medieval violence, it would be a completely legal option if the court decided to sanction it. While laws would likely be created to restrict or ban it afterwards, or at least there would be a possibility, this (especially from a State Supreme Justice from the state of New York, one of the most liberal places in the country) means that there could definitely be a chance to attain a trial by combat, even if very low. While this may be a generally more insignificant issue compared to the bigger issues of today, it’s quite interesting to find a legal ground that has not been thoroughly covered with restrictions and laws. It’s also nice to understand where much of our legal history comes from when looking at alternative and less well known sources. For example, in most cases of trial by combat from the medieval and dark ages, a defendant or a prosecutor could choose a “champion,” better considered a representative, to fight on their behalf. This system is credited with at least a partial contribution to the idea of having lawyers represent us in court rather than do it ourselves, something very few people know or understand. While it may be unlikely, it would be very interesting to see a legal battle between our “civility” and what is actually allowed legally take place, especially under the context of the issues and debates we already have going on today.