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Different Sorts of Justice

A civil lawyer would not — should not — be satisfied if his client received procedural justice but did not receive (what the lawyer considered) substantive justice. A criminal lawyer would not — should not — be satisfied if his client received (what anyone considered) substantive justice but did not receive procedural justice.

A civil lawyer fights on behalf of a human being for what the lawyer believes is restorative justice. A criminal lawyer fights on behalf of a human being against what others hold is retributive justice. Both lawyers fight against unpeople (corporations, governments, organized religions). Both are motivated by compassion.

I believe that the universe is ethically self-correcting. I subscribe to Clarence Darrow’s view that we don’t know diddly-squat about justice, and that we should cling to justice, understanding, and mercy. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe some of you are competent to decide who goes to prison, who gets a needle in his arm, and who walks free. But I doubt it.

Legislatures, judges, and prosecutors are no more competent to decide whether a person deserves to die or be imprisoned than you or I.

Few and far between are the criminal cases in which the world would be a better place if the government had its way with the defendant.

Technorati Tags: criminal defense, philosophy, justice



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