An Issue of Monopoly Justice

Vail Daily reports an interesting case:

Martin Joel Erzinger, 52, faces two misdemeanor traffic charges stemming from a July 3 incident when he allegedly hit bicyclist Dr. Steven Milo from behind then sped away, according to court documents.

Milo and his attorney, Harold Haddon, are livid about the prosecution’s decision to drop the felony charge. They filed their objection Wednesday afternoon, the day after prosecutors notified Haddon’s office by fax of their decision.

. . . Erzinger manages more than $1 billion in assets. He would have to publicly disclose any felony charge within 30 days, according to North American Securities Dealers regulations.

Milo wrote in a letter to District Attorney Mark Hurlbert that the case “has always been about responsibility, not money.”

“Mr. Erzinger struck me, fled and left me for dead on the highway,” Milo wrote. “Neither his financial prominence nor my financial situation should be factors in your prosecution of this case.”

Hurlbert said Thursday that, in part, this case is about the money.

“The money has never been a priority for them. It is for us,” Hurlbert said. “Justice in this case includes restitution and the ability to pay it.”

Some critics of libertarians claim that wealthy people could regularly “get away with murder” since they could simply pay restitution rather than be punished. This position makes the error of assuming monopoly justice, however. This case is a problem of monopoly justice, rather than of wealth. The fact that the state is the monopoly provider of justice means that the victim only has a single place to make a complaint, and if the prosecutor does not provide satisfactory service, he simply must live with being dissatisfied. There are no competitors to which he may appeal. Under a stateless system, arbitrators would have to produce rulings which tend to satisfy all parties. Without a state, a felony conviction would not automatically have the power to severely curtail a person’s ability to earn a living. Without a state, a victim would not be required to accept an “advocate” who disregarded the victim’s own wishes.