Re "A Russian Goes on Trial Soviet Style," Oct. 21: It is bad news for the troubled nation that the court is considering whether to apply a retroactive law. However, it may be a consolation for the Russians that they are not alone in the world.
On Nov. 4, 1996, California adopted a law to retroactively punish uninsured motorists. The law, known as Prop. 213, relates back and prohibits compensation for pain and suffering from those injuries sustained before it was adopted. In Russia, for the time being, only one person is charged under the retroactive law. In California, the retroactive law has affected the scores of injured and disabled people who had failed to figure out how far the voters would go in the pursuit of uninsured motorists. The story is all the more sad in that it was not necessarily the voters' choice. The retroactive provision was ingeniously inserted into the law and passed along with the main text.