Discussion of German vs. American law in blog comments

The German American Law Journal blog recently mentioned the one-sided views of foreign law we get from newspapers. I mentioned that here too. Now I find an addition, saying ‘A blogged discourse may help on occasion’.

The discourse (nice word, that) in question is here – an argument that appeared in the comments of the blog Useful Fools. The discussion is started by John Moore as follows:

The German “justice” system just handed down a sentence on the first terrorist convicted in the murder of 3000 people on 9-11. The maximum sentence of 15 years was imposed on Mounir el-Motassadeq.
MAXIMUM OF 15 YEARS? That works out to 43.8 hours per murder!

(there is more – I think the remarks are somewhat affected by the arguments in the press at that time before the Iraq war).

Torsten B., a German lawyer, lists a lot of facts about German law in reply, ending with a heated flourish.

Torsten’s contribution is quite useful, although after reading the whole argument, I’m not sure how enlightening it is. Towards the end, one Sean posts a highly ill-informed account of the common law he got from a German who worked in Ireland, obviously based on the illusion that common law means custom (widely believed in Germany):

this is pretty interesting stuff. i had the opportunity to travel to Germany for two weeks last month. i had a fascinating conversation with a German man who was home from Ireland where he works. he was very clearly a member of the left. he described himself as “coming out of the labor movement.”
he explained to me that the main difference between the mainland Europe legal system and that of the UK and USA is the concept of common law. the USA/UK system assumes that law is made by codifying its application. law is simply a system of general customs and norms. if it was done a particular way for a while, it will continue to be that way. if something is similar to an old problem, the old way of doing it will be bent a bit to fit, and we’ll run with it.

In the German version of the German American Law Journal Blog, there is an entry – in German, of course – qualifying the importance of the recent $2 m verdict against spammers.

Die Bedeutung dieses Urteils darf jedoch nicht überschätzt werden, da es lediglich als Versäumnisurteil erging. Es hat keinen Wert als Präzedenzfall, und dient somit eher politischer Propaganda. Hierfür spricht unter anderem, dass die Klage vom kalifornischen Justizminister (Attorney General) Bill Lockyer erhoben worden ist, der in sein Amt gewählt wird und Spam ein in der Bevölkerung heiss diskutiertes Thema darstellt.

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