Is a lawyers reputation based more on winning than on getting to the truth and finding justice?
After reading the Hub "Become a Lawyer", I noted the comment "When we got to court my client won". This prompted the question above. The question is based on observation that here in America, many perceive that the winning side of the legal system seems to belong to the one who pays the most money for a lawyer, with the result that we hear in the news regularly of decisions that conflict with our basic understanding of what is right and just.
unfortunately, a lawyer's rep is based on whether or not they can win and not on whether they help to see that justice is served. I remember a quote that seems to sum up the field of law very well "the truth is what you can convince someone it is."
I think it was summed up by saying "we have the best legal system money can buy".
Many lawyers see themselves as "hired guns", willing to do anything for anyone provided they get paid. I have a conscience.
If I get a child molester off on a technicality should I be proud? A question lawyers often dodge . The normal answer is that the guy came to me for legal help - not for me to jump on him, too.
I think I would rather prosecute.
Most people don't know the law and cannot even begin to understand legal language. There are such things as good lawyers who would rather fight for justice but they are not easy to find. That is why there are so many jokes written about "Where can you find a good lawyer?"
Of course, the legal system is based on the idea of discovering the truth and administering justice. Unfortunately, that is rarely how it functions these days. In the US, and in most of modern society, the practice of law has become about winning. Facts are often hidden or distorted.
Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian spiritual leader, was trained as a barrister, a British lawyer, and practiced law in South Africa (then under British rule). He was defending a man charged with embezzling, with stealing money from his company. At the beginning, Gandhi thought his client was innocent. In the middle of the trial, he heard new evidence, and realize that this was not true. Immediately, without asking his client, he announced his client's guilt and requested the mercy of the court. Things worked out well. The man did not go to prison, and worked to pay restitution instead. Gandhi's response came from his understanding of ancient Hindu law.
In the US, Gandhi would have been disbarred - disqualified from being a lawyer. Criminal defense attorneys often know that their client is guilty, and are not allowed to tell the court or anyone - a matter of attorney-client privilege. This is a good idea in itself. But, with many other complications piled on, unfortunately, the American legal system has become a place that is more about obscuring the truth than honoring it.
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