"Truth and reconciliation
Sunday, February 26th, Nelson Mandela appeared on NPR to talk about his life, including his experience with the Truth and Reconciliation Committee in South Africa after Aparthied. It occurs to me that we could use some of that in our court system. But lawyer-authors like John Grisham tell us that lawyers are almost if not proud that truth and justice are the first casualties in a trial. We are told that the object of a trial is not to find the truth, but to convince the jury by whatever means possible, while preserving the appearance of justice, so that the general public will be deceived into having faith in our justice system.
So in our adversarial (or confrontational) system of justice, the job of a lawyer is then to deny and distract from the truth at all costs. If for example, you say you have a disability and present doctor and hospital x-rays, CAT scans and MRIs of necrotic (dying) bone that looks like Swiss cheese, the opposing lawyer (in one case a U.S. Attorney, yet) will deny over and over again that this proves anything. And the Judge will let that lawyer go on like that for some time, without saying whether or not it is sufficient proof. If the local loony bin got a hold of you and you insisted on making those kinds of denial, in the face of that kind of evidence, you would likely get forced medication and a much longer stay, just for “losing touch” with reality.
We are also told, even if we can’t find a lawyer to stand with us, that we should speak to the court in legalese (whether we understand it or not) and not present to the court any “personal” information. Hold on a second. Isn’t that like saying that you can tell the court someone pushed you down the stairs, but not how much it hurt and terrified you to be ejected from your wheelchair. Or that the terror was so much the worse because someone had put you in that wheelchair by pushing you down some stairs before. I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like an admission by the courts and legal community that injecting any amount of humanity into their process would corrupt their idea of justice.
Then there’s the practice of massive off-topic citations. If you file a suit and you are not a lawyer, the opposing lawyer is sure to demand that the case be dismissed, on grounds referring to a dozen or more citations of law and case law, that may be perfectly true but don’t honestly address your complaint. On the hope, of course, that you will utterly confused and intimidated by his or her superior expertise. For example, if you are suing a government official for violations of your civil rights under the color of law (42 U.S.C. Section 1983), the government’s lawyer will make a claim that government officials have “absolute immunity”. Namely, that no government official can be sued in the good-faith performance of that official’s duties. Which is perfectly true in that situation, but utterly irrelevant when that official does something stupid or corrupt that denies you the due process of law. Not to mention the fact that it is tough going for a layman to wade through all that legalese, and the Judge will not help by exposing the deception.
So in other words, it’s your fault if you present personal information in your arguments, but a lawyer is perfectly free to throw in all the garbage he or she can think of, so long as the lawyer puts it into “legalese”.
Then they go into an offended huff if we look at them like they’re crazy. "