Tag Archives: justice

To be… or not to be aggressive

My profession puts me in a situation where I’m required to be ‘aggressive’. Most people seem to have this misguided notion that the more aggressive a lawyer is, the higher their chances of winning a case. Million dollar question is, is that the reality or is it just a mere fallacy? I vouch for the latter.

A couple of years ago, when I was in my second year of law school, I was seated in court following proceedings during my clinical attachment. There was this ongoing personal injury case, where the plaintiff was seeking compensation for injuries he had sustained in a car accident. The defendant’s lawyer was a young energetic man, who had this awfully intimidating tactic…

So intimidating was he, that the plaintiff kept contradicting himself during his cross-examination, because he was incoherent with fear. I imagined if he was calm, he wouldn’t have kept fumbling over his words… Ordinarily, the court setting is extremely unnerving. Therefore it goes without saying that if the lawyers are too harsh on the witnesses, their trepidation is aggravated and as such, their testimony might be a tad compromised.

Still, from a novice lawyer’s perspective, if aggressiveness helps win a case, who cares whether the witnesses were too freaked out to be coherent? Every competent lawyer’s hope is for the court to rule in their client’s favour, and sadly, seldom does it matter how that case is won.

I remember a lecturer during an evidence law class telling us that a lawyer has the power to convince the court that a white board is actually black. That furthermore, it is not the truth that helps a client win a case, but about who of the lawyers is crafty enough to convince the court their client is the victim.

This was the concept in the ‘Justice’ legal drama produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, starring Victor Garber and Kerr Smith. In the show, an incident would occur, then the parties concerned would get legal counsels, who would battle the matter out in court.

After the court’s verdict was given at the end of the show, they would reveal what actually transpired, and if justice was served. As one would imagine, the actual victims were not always the ones winning cases. This is what happens in real life. Sometimes the offenders are the ones who get away with their wrongful acts.

Growing up, I thought the harsher a lawyer was, banging tables and all, the more effective they were. I still had the same notion in law school because that is how successful lawyers are portrayed on tv… This went on, until I actually started my pupillage and interacted with real people. Now I know, that aggressiveness doesn’t win a case; humility and preparedness does.

When I was doing my pupillage, one of our clients called, saying his cousin had been arrested for assault. At the time everyone at the law firm was engaged, so I was asked to go bail him out. I had met our client only once before in a different matter, but thankfully when I saw him he remembered me, and so did I.

Interestingly, before I got there, he had already warned everyone who cared to listen that his lawyer would really deal with them. He had issued numerous threats based on what he imagined I would do… However, when I finally arrived I started talking to him, and the police officers just to get an idea of what had transpired.

At the time our client’s cousin was already behind bars, so I requested to be allowed to talk to him as well. Unlike his cousin who was championing for a ‘smack down’ between me and the police officers, he just wanted the matter to end there. Therefore I talked to the complainant, asked what had happened and what he expected to achieve from filing the complaint, so I could get his side of the story…

Turns out it was just a relationship between a landlord (our client’s cousin) and his tenant (complainant) gone awry… The landlord wanted to exert his dominance over his tenant, who owing to hard times had defaulted on payment… and consequently, the tenant wanted ‘justice’ for the assault occasioned to him.

By the time I was leaving the police station hours later, the complainant had agreed to drop the charges, and we had come up with a payment plan to cover the rent arrears. Everyone, except our client (landlord’s cousin), walked away happy. See he had hoped I would deal with the matter aggressively… but in my quest to find an amicable solution between the warring parties, I had poured cold water over his wild expectations.

Before I arrived he had been such a bother, that no officer at the station wanted to deal with him. Eventually, when we posted bail and his cousin was released, he seemed happy. However, when my pupil master called to commend me for my good job, he added, “But I was told you were not aggressive”.

That had me wondering, “If being aggressive means ones barks out threats mindlessly, and subsequently widening the chasm between the parties, isn’t it better to solve matters diplomatically?” That incident helped me realize I don’t need to be aggressive to succeed as a lawyer; and neither do I need to employ hard-line bargaining tactics to win cases.

I just need to be humble, yet assertive. That way I’ll bridge barriers without stepping on people’s toes. There’s no harm in resolving matters peacefully… In bar school, one lecturer posed a hard question: “Can a good lawyer be a good person?” I think, yes! Maybe it’s my inexperience misguiding me, but I truly believe a good lawyer, who’s skilled and successful, can also be a morally straight person; one who does not win by sharp practice.

Don’t despair

enduring unjust suffering

For what credit is there if you endure the beatings you deserve for having done wrong? But if you endure suffering even when you have done right, God will bless you for it. It was for this that God called you, for Christ Himself suffered for you and left you an example, so that you would follow in His steps. He committed no sin, and no one ever heard a lie come from His lips.

When He was insulted, He did not threaten, but placed His hopes in God, the righteous judge. Christ Himself carried our sins in His body to the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. It is by His wounds that you have been healed. You were like sheep that had lost their way, but now you have been brought back to follow the shepherd and keeper of your souls. (1 Peter 2: 20-25).

How many times have you gone to bed and felt deprived of sleep because you feel you have been treated unfairly? Especially when you know you really didn’t deserve to be treated so badly? Say at work, school, by a friend, partner… Take heart if you are burdened with so much agony. God hasn’t turned a blind eye to your suffering. He sees it all, and when the time is right He will vindicate you. He will chasten your oppressors in due time.

Sometimes people let their oppressors get away with it, taking all the harassment patiently not because they don’t know their worth, but because they feel powerless. For instance, a diligent woman gets up every single morning, goes to work but all her employer sees are the things she does wrong; nit-picking, never complimenting her, even once, for her dedication to the work.

When the month ends, the woman is denied her rightful pay. She feels oppressed, but since nowadays jobs are so hard to find, she continues to work, hoping that at some point the employer will be kind enough to give her, the accrued wages. When the said employer realizes the woman takes it all uncomplainingly, they push even harder, insulting, humiliating her openly. But the woman, as much as she knows she deserves better, still shows up at work.

I talked about one knowing their worth, but sometimes circumstances force one to suck up. It’s said beggars can’t be choosers. If one is in such a situation, they shouldn’t despair. Peter says, if you endure suffering even when you have done right, God will bless you for it.

If one feels they are suffering unjustly and there’s nothing they can do to change their situation, one should patiently wait on God. He will come through, at His own time, and while He avenges them, punishing their oppressors, He will bless them beyond measure, for He is a just God.

 

 

“I will never forget their evil deeds!”

Listen to this, you that trample on the needy and try to destroy the poor of the country. You say to yourselves, “We can hardly wait for the holy days to be over so that we can sell our grain. When will the Sabbath end, so that we can start selling grain? Then we can overcharge, use false measures, and fix the scales to cheat our customers. We can sell worthless wheat at a high price. We’ll find a poor man who can’t pay his debts, not even the price of a pair of sandals, and we’ll buy him as a slave.”

The Lord, the God of Israel, has sworn, “I will never forget their evil deeds.” (Amos 8: 4-7).

In the society we live today, the needy are trampled on by the powerful; those who are in high authority, and the massively wealthy. A needy person sues a wealthy person, say because they were forcefully evicted from their home…but somehow at the end of the day, they’re not given justice, simply because money exchanged hands behind the scenes. Justice seems to favour those in power.

A needy person rushes their loved one to hospital, urgently in need of medical attention, but they watch painfully as their loved one breathes their last, simply because the doctors couldn’t attend to them because they couldn’t pay for their services in advance. It sounds despicable when I think about it, but that’s the world we live in today. The needy survive only at the mercy of the rich; those in power.

Retailers and wholesalers hoard goods, waiting for prices to go up, so they can sell them at exorbitant prices, so those who can’t afford it go to bed hungry. An aggrieved woman goes to report a crime at the police precinct; the same officer she expects to protect her takes advantage of her. Who will she turn to? College Professors fail their students, because they refuse to trade in ‘favours’… Who will protect these students?

The law of the land seems to favour the wealthy, making the needy spend sleepless nights, trying to comprehend how life could be so cruel. Who will defend them, if those who’ve been put in place to protect them are the same ones making their lives impossible? God says He will. He has vowed not to forget the evil deeds of their oppressors.

God defends the weak

One thing I’ve learned over time is that, not all wealthy people/those in power are evil, and not all poor/needy people are good. For instance, I was reading this blog post about a popular media personality who died a few days ago in a terrorist attack, and someone had commented, ‘the rich also cry.’ I found it inhumane. How could someone say something so vindictive, when people were grieving? I’ve met needy people, who resent the wealthy for no apparent reason; needy people who are extremely spiteful, and I’ve also met people in power who are kind; people who don’t hesitate to share their wealth with the poor.

God says He will defend those who are wrongfully hurt; those who cry because they have no one to defend them. God will avenge them.