Where is Justice?

Justice is the quality of being righteous, impartial, or fair.  It involves the exercise of sound reason to reward or penalize people as they deserve.  But where is justice to be found today?

Constantly we see examples of the opposite.  Whether we be at home, school, church, work, or play we find injustice.  Those that lie, cheat and deceive are on top.  They are lifted up as examples for ourselves and our children to emulate.  Why are we surprised then when we cannot find justice?

As an attorney, I am constantly hearing people rail on our legal system and the injustices they observe therein.  The accusations are all too often true.  Moreover, the complicity of lawyers and judges in the perpetuation of many of these injustices is also true.  But wherein does the root of the problem lie?

To listen to many, the whole problem could be cured with the waive of a magic wand, making all the lawyers and judges disappear.  While I share their sentiment in part - i.e. I would just assume live in a society where the laws were simply stated and clear (e.g. in Israel at the time of Moses) and known by all so that people could bring their own disputes before common law judges - I know that getting rid of all the lawyers and judges would not change things one bit, unless Americans also change.

The bottom line is that our legal system reflects us as a people and we as a people have stopped practicing justice!  All you have to do is look around to see how unjust we are.  Divorce is rampant; bastard children are everywhere; and kids, laborers and communities are being thrown away.  Every aspect of American society is breaking down all around us and we want to blame a few lawyers, politicians and judges.  My God, lawyers, politicians and judges are people too.  If they have such great power it can only be because you gave it to them!  The truth of the matter is we do not have justice because we are not just!  If you want to see justice return to America then you must begin by doing justice yourself.  Practice what you preach, for a change!

Just last week I had the good pleasure of defending a person against a serious felony charge.  From voir dire of the jury (i.e. the process by which attorneys question potential jurors to determine pre-existing biases that would prevent some from being fair and impartial) to closing arguments, certain lofty concepts were bandied about.  The jury heard much about their duty to be fair and impartial triers of the facts, the fact that under our law a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and much much more.

Unfortunately, I was naive.  After battling for seven months with the prosecutor and a former prosecutor sitting as judge, I was relieved that I would finally get the opportunity to present my client's case to a jury of his peers.  Regardless of my frustration with the judicial system, I thought that I could rely upon a jury of twelve Americans, taken from the community wherein my client lived, to uphold the principles upon which this once great nation was founded.  I was wrong!

I should have known better.  If I cannot find justice exercised amongst the members of the community wherein I live, then what made me think that a jury of twelve, drawn from that community, would be any different?  We must wake up, people.  Justice begins with ourselves.  If we desire to live in a just society then we must do justice ourselves.  It is only by our example that we can show others what justice is and hope that someday justice might be re-established in our land!

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