The Missing Women’s Inquiry and State Autonomy

In February 2009 I wrote this post about the Robert Pickton trial, in which I pointed out that Max Weber’s conception of the state having a monopoly on violence leads to the exclusion of the victims from the whole legal process:

Pickton threatened the autonomy of the state by using physical violence without permission, which is why he is being prosecuted by the state rather than by a lawyer working for the women. Considering the Crown symbolism, in fact, the women have very little to do with this trial whatsoever.

The dubious arrangement of state-funded legal representation in the BC Missing Women Commission of Inquiry is a nice illustration of this fact. As noted by The Dominion:

The provincial and federal governments are providing funding for the one lawyer for the Attorney General of BC, three lawyers for the Department of Justice Canada (RCMP), nine lawyers for the commission counsel, two lawyers for the Vancouver Police Department, one lawyer for Rossmo (former VPD), two lawyers for the Criminal Justice Branch (prosecutors), and one lawyer for the Vancouver Police Union—19 legal representatives in total for the justice system representatives.

One lawyer is provided to represent a fraction [ten] of the families of the missing and murdered women represented at the commission; no funding will be made available to the Aboriginal, sex-trade and women’s groups—many of which knew the women intimately.

Weber says, “If the state is to exist, the dominated must obey the authority claimed by the powers that be.” A more equitable distribution of power, one in which regular civilians are permitted to criticize on a level playing field the application of state autonomy, is evidently perceived as a massive threat.

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