Monday, July 26, 2010

Doubts about there being any winners in a sexual molestation case...

Sitting in court today, and while I cannot give the details at all of what went on inside, I thought the following (which I recorded in my Moleskine notepad):

I feel terrible for the victim just knowing the type of emotional and psychological trauma they will have to deal with for the rest of their lives. Even though justice may be served in the eyes of some people and in the eyes of the law, no one is a winner at all in a case like this.

The next thought that came to my mind (that I didn't write down):

Even though justice may be served as well, what about the offender? Yes, that individual may serve time in jail, but would that solve the problem at all? Hard time in jail without any treatment to try to figure out why that person has that impulse to molest children? Doesn't that just seem to only plug the gap in the dyke with a temporary measure?

But, I am one of "those people" who also thinks that the United States should eliminate the death penalty. It seems a bit ridiculous that we, as in the US government, are quick to criticize other nations for their violations of human rights, but there is little to no unease about putting American citizens to death. Yes, I'm well aware that juries find these people guilty of murder, but overall it just seems that we haven't left the dark ages of Europe by clinging to capital punishment. And even worse, innocent people have been put to death.

In the end, what does capital punishment solve? Another person dies. It doesn't bring back those who were murdered. There is no magical equation that brings the murdered person(s) back to life once the killer is put to death. It only just proves that we, the United States have not joined a good part of the modern world.

I am leaving out the whole argument as to the deeper social problem that seems to be ignored in the misguided and primitive blood curdling cries for vengeance. Because that's good Christian morals there for you.

What would that Jesus character a lot of these conservatives who support capital punishment love so much say about visiting justice on a murderer?

What does this have to do with my somber thoughts from court today? Well, in that I think the cries for retribution for a heinous crime drown out the need to rehabilitate the offender. Yes, the crime is horrible, I'll be the first to admit that; and its probably worse than murder. But, just tossing someone in prison for a couple of years or the rest of their lives solves nothing. Just another number to our growing prison population (fact, the United States while making up around 5% of the world's population makes up nearly 25% of the incarcerated population of the world...yeah, so how do we have moral standing to criticize China about their human rights violations?). Shouldn't we be interested enough in trying to rehabilitate a person?

Or are we still just a bunch of "savages" that just want our pound of flesh in retribution?

Simply stated: On what moral ground does the United States have in enforcing human rights on other nations when we still kill our own citizens?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A true committment to Equal Justice?

After a few days of sitting in on a sexual misconduct case (well, to be more specific, sexual molestation of a child), one idea lodged itself in my mind while sitting on the tram: Do I really have a commitment to my idea of providing equal access to justice and I like to think I do?

It only sits with me because a legal career is two years and a Bar examination away right now. What do I do if placed in the situation where I have to defend a person who is accused of sexual assault or one accused of child molestation. Not to mention rape, murder, etc. Its a big thing I think some law students need to think about besides gunning for a job at a top firm (uh, not one of my goals.), because not everyone is going to get that job at the top firm in Chicago, New York, LA, Tokyo, London, Hong Kong, etc, etc.

I know its been running around in my head right now. Lawyers are to advocate for their clients, but as was brought up in my Civ Pro class last semester: is there a line where you can't advocate for your client? As in...the client tells you in not so many words they did x offense.

Maybe I think too much, seeing that I tend to believe that I'm not as "high speed," "Low drag" as many of the other law students at my humble little non Tier 1 school, (more ranting on that...its like the BCS, except with more at stake in the long run. Well, the BCS is bullshit too, and I might as well bash it in the future. Go fuck yourself Nebraska. We don't want you in the goddamn Big Ten. Fuck tournaments, fuck TV money....Universities are there to educate people, not to pay some mouth breathing, greedy, asshole coach who is as interesting as the dog shit I almost stepped in running in West Brunswick yesterday millions of dollars. Hey Unis, you do realize kids leave school with 40-100k in debt with an interest rate around 7-4% and a zero fucking job market...and to even be competitive, you have to drop a 100k to get a graduate degree with the same interest rates in loans. What is wrong with this goddamn picture? Lets not even go into how the NCAA is a house of exploitation, where we demonize some kid because he got $10k under the table while the school, the BCS and the NCAA is racking in millions upon millions of dollars. Ok, rant done.) but what really sticks in my mind is that an idea of equal justice should be on the mind of anyone entering the legal field.

Lets not fool ourselves, the United States for all of its great perks, there is an ugly underside that no one wants to accept. The Katrina disaster in New Orleans should have made that clear to everyone. The news that children go to school without eating at all because their family cannot provide meals; and the reason why for me is immaterial. If the parents have a drug addiction, that's a sign that there's somewhere else our society has failed to care for its citizens; but in a country so wealthy, as many bombastic Americans like to claim, what is wrong with providing free breakfast and lunch to young children in school.

This is where I wish I had bookmarked the page of the study that illustrated data that young children need to have sufficient nutrition in order to learn; specifically protein, which the brain requires. And a quick science lecture there: the basic reason why homo sapiens sapiens was able to be a "thinking" organism was that we included a lot of protein in our diet which permitted the brain to operate at its high capacity. Though, not as much as my laptop.


And equal justice fits in here somehow. Dealing with social inequality is important. From the many speakers I've heard and the random articles I come upon, providing equal justice to everyone is important. Simply, why should someone who is poor not have access to the same legal mechanisms that the richest can easily afford?

That said, I find it interesting that the media is quick to paint in a negative picture a person who murders a person, robs a store...and somehow focuses on fact that the non offenders are not white (hrm, isn't that just another indication of social inequality in this country at some level?)...but when GinormoBanks that participated in the near collapse of the conservative movement's beloved capitalist market in 2008, there's not demands for hard prison time. No loud screams for punitive justice. I'm sure as soon as the BP machine starts rolling, the rhetoric against them may level out.

But back to equal justice. (Wow, I am a crappy law student, I can't even keep the focus on my blog. Well, it is a blog.) It's something that needs to be considered. And while the interpretation of the Constitution of the United States is reinterpreted in different fashions based on the current political climate or the methods used by SCOTUS Justices to interpret the constitution (I'm sorry, that originalist stance is ridiculous. Even Chief Justice John Marshall in an 1803 decision, Marbury v. Madison said that interpretation of the Constitution should not be based soley on an originalist theory), we are still afforded an opportunity to be heard in court. And I don't think your ability to defend yourself or seek justice should be determined soley on your social and economic status.

So even staring mindlessly out of the 55 Tram, thinking of a hypothetical client charged with sexual molestation of a child, I still think that hypothetical client deserves my utmost effort to advocate for them.