“You are accountable for your actions, for your choices.” This was a call to arms from a political ad aimed at reintroducing personal accountability into society. It coincided with a high profile criminal case in which an alleged intruder had been injured on a booby trapped property. The booby trap had been installed in response to a rampant string of thefts. It became known as the Booby Trap Justice case.
The defendant was suing the property owner for the injuries sustained when he “accidently” stumbled onto the property. The property owner used surveillance video to show the defendant carrying goods towards the exit and behaving in ways that clearly dismissed the idea of accidental behavior. In the end the civil suit was dismissed and the defendant pleaded out.
Jefferson never let a good crisis go to waste. Jefferson felt the case should have never gone to trial at all, that the standards for burden of proof should have been much higher to even warrant a trial. This would be Jefferson’s first crusade. Property rights. Self-defense. A man’s home is his castle. The right to not be sued for protecting yourself.
If you unlawfully entered someone’s home, you had already broken the Jeffersonian Personal Accountability code. You had made a choice. And if that choice caused you to be beaten, shot or killed, then then that was price that came with personal accountability. There was no one else who could shoulder the burden of that choice.
A month after the Booby Trap Justice case was settled, a bill was introduced into the House by way of the White House: the Right to Protect Freedom Bill. The bill reiterated the rights of people to defend their property from invasion. The burden was placed on the alleged intruder to prove any personal injury was malicious on the part of the property owner. But it more importantly stated what rights the invader forfeited when he or she chose to invade. Personal accountability. You forfeited your rights when you chose to step over that line. You were now accountable for the repercussions. The burden was placed on you, the invader, if you survived to prove that the invasion was an accident, a mistake or a setup. If you could prove intent, then that was on the property owner for a breakdown in personal accountability.
Senator Esposito was on board. Esposito’s chief of staff called to see if I could support this. I said yes. I could not argue with making you accountable for your choices. Not sure my support really made any difference. I presume the call was made to ensure my money kept flowing.
The bill passed with small but vocal opposition in the House and Senate. Jefferson’s political capital did its job. Jefferson had so much political capital he had plenty left to launch his second crusade: Accountability outside the castle.
The next crusade was what you would call personal liability reform. You were accountable, and by association, liable for your actions. If I did something that caused harm to you, whether through intention or through carelessness, then I was accountable and therefore liable for that harm. Jefferson took the notion a step further. If I did something careless that caused you to harm me that was on me too. I am accountable for my mistakes, not you. If I crossed the street where I should not cross and you ran into me with your car, that carelessness was on me.
Jefferson’s opponents called it the Darwin Law: survival of the fittest. No mistake, however innocent, human or accidental, would go unpunished. His opponents argued the slipperiness of the slope.
Jefferson countered the slippery slope argument with a compromise: Civic Accountability Boards. CABs would be populated with citizens chosen like a jury. Chosen citizens would serve a one-year term. Any civil or criminal case could be brought forward to be presented to the board. The CAB would deliberate and determine if Jefferson’s accountability code came into play. If accountability came into play, they would assign accountability. Accountability by a jury of your peers.
Jefferson’s political momentum was a tsunami. The bill was introduced and passed.