Part 1: Justice and Equality Under the Law

One of my least favorite lawyer jokes is the one that goes, "Do you know how to tell that a lawyer is lying? His lips are moving." Based on this joke alone, one would think that all lawyers are liars and they should not be trusted. Well, the fact of the matter is that most lawyers are decent, honorable people who are performing a valuable service in our society: helping to maintain order. When people say that attorneys are dishonest and should not be trusted, it is usually because they have been told something that they don't want to hear, such as that a case will not be brought to trial because there is insufficient evidence to prove the defendants guilt or that someone who is guilty of harming them or someone they love is going to "go free" because the burden of proof required to convict that person or persons had not been met.

Our system of laws is one that is based on the concepts of justice and equality under the law not fairness, punishment or retribution. Sometimes, we find that justice and equality do not also equate to what's fair or amount to what we as society would deem as an adequate punishment. Sometimes, these concepts equate to punishment at all, with the accused party "walking" and the aggrieved party left wondering what went wrong.

As stated previously, our system of laws is based on the concepts of justice and equality under the law. To ensure that these concepts apply to everyone--every man, woman and child--accused of the most minor infraction to the most heinous crime receives "his day in court," a system of rules has been put in place. Whether it is a rule that says that certain evidence or the statements of a witness will not be presented, these rules serve a purpose: to prevent unfair or prejudicial evidence (or testimony) from being presented. Chances are that the evidence or statement has been deemd to be unreliable or overly prejudicial. If it could taint the judge or jury's opinion in the slightest way, even if true, our laws dictate that such evidence or testimony should be withheld. We may not like these rules, but they are designed and implemented in a manner so as to ensure that every person accused of some wrongdoing or another, or of committing a criminal act, is treated the same in the eyes of the law. 

Justice is supposed to be blind, knowing no race, creed, color or gender, so everyone enters a court of law on equal footing. Sometimes, the concept of equality under the law does not always seem "equal." Unfortunately, that which is just is not always fair: defendants seem to be preferred over victims; the rich have advantages that the poor can only dream of; the race of the accused, and sometimes the victim, seems to be weighed more heavily than it should despite other considerations. There are many factors that seem to make equality under the law seem more like a good concept but an unworkable one. Some of these factors run counter to what many of us deem as being equal. They seem to make a mockery of the concept by making it (equality) seem elusive for those most deserving of it. However, the alternative could be much worse. 

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