Many years of practice. Many clients. Many trials. What have I learned, and what would I wish to pass on to those with whom I have come into contact? First and foremost, I have learned that human nature does not evolve as quickly as we may wish; but more importantly, not all situations are hopeless.
There has always been crime, and of that there is no end in sight. But just as true, there have been unfounded and false allegations, over-charging of offenses and political persecution, and bureaucratic foul-ups within every system of justice.
Not all defendants are guilty, not all “victims” are truthful, not all judges are fair, and not all jurors are free of bias.
Personal motivation, perspective, prejudice, and fear are part of daily life; they are also part of our criminal justice system. Rich or poor, nobody is totally free of temptation, jealousy, rejection, or poor judgment. And within those immutable qualities we have carved out the best justice system we could create, with protections and privileges, reviews and pronouncements. Nevertheless, the arena in which justice is meted out cannot guarantee that truth has prevailed. For those innocently accused, convicted, and incarcerated, the nightmare is relentless. At every step of the process, that person has been deprived of truth. The latest developments in scientific testing of evidence and DNA have come too late for some, and, in any event, science cannot yet be applied to allegations. Even with zealous representation and appellate review, real people have fallen through the cracks, and that too may always be the case as long as human nature remains constant.
Nevertheless, where attorneys can make a difference in this criminal justice system, they do. Both prosecutors and defense lawyers have an obligation to see that justice is done, to the extent that both sides set aside their own agendas in favor of the truth. There is hope, without which things will never change.
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