Tuesday, June 14, 2005

veritas et iustitia

a society that upheld the belief that justice was the prerogative of all its citizens and that every citizen was equal before the law would regard the idea that some lawyers were worth more than others with contempt. that society would recognise that the sole objective of a trial by jury was to discover the truth behind the circumstances of an alleged crime or misdemeanour, and that, in order to do so, the advocates for both parties should be remunerated by the state and should be interchangeable, ie that it should make no difference to the outcome of the trial which lawyer was representing either client. indeed, such a society might even have evolved a judicial system which incorporated such a process into its due process - the lawyers being responsible to the court, not to the opposing parties, and thus having to brief themselves sufficiently to be able to exchange positions mid-trial at the behest of the judge in order to ensure their impartiality.
the current model, of course, is theatre, not justice.
the idea that a jury's verdict after a high-profile trial is a kind of final endorsement of the truth of one side's position is nonsense: a judicial system which recognises that some lawyers are worth more than others because they succeed - ie they win their cases - more than others is a contemptible tool of the rich and the powerful, nothing more.
good theatre, though.

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