“Don’t you care? Don’t you even care? They’re people you know? They’re just people… He’s dead! Half hour after they put him in the lockup he hanged himself. God damn it!”
We often become too familiar with our jobs. That along with losing passion, fatigue, personal issues, and conflicts may cause us to bring down our standards. Laws form the boundaries of our society, structure our government, maintain order, guarantee our rights and the freedom of private enterprise, regulate complicated affairs, and punish wrongdoers. However, what drove most of us, or at least many, to pursue a career in law is the idea of justice. Justice can be defined as the truth pursuant to the evidence, what is right under the totality of the circumstance, or what the law interprets as permissible based on the facts presented.
In “And Justice for All,” Al Pacino plays defense attorney, Arthur Kirkland, who has a reputation for having a high moral standard. He is also known to have bad blood with an authoritative judge named Henry Fleming, who is accused of raping and assaulting a woman. Unfortunately, Kirkland is forced to represent Fleming because the judge threatened to disbar him for breaking client confidentiality unless he takes the case. Because he is tied up with the big case, Kirkland asks a friend to fill in for him on a case involving a gullible transgender defendant who is accused of robbery and is petrified of how other inmates will treat him if he is convicted.
The lines quoted at the beginning of this article are from the scene where Kirkland finds out that his friend has neglected to request probation before judgment and the transgender defendant has committed suicide after being sentence to serve time. Not knowing all the facts, the friend yells, in response, that it’s just nickel and dime.
Defense attorneys make deals with prosecutors to request a favor in return, prosecutors want to be a star by convicting a judge, defense attorneys and prosecutors both fabricate or hide evidence to win the case. Kirkland says in his opening statement that the intention of justice is that the guilty people are proven guilty and the innocent are freed. He adds that the only problem is that both sides would like to win regardless of the truth, regardless of who’s guilty, because winning is everything.
The adversarial system has its merits. The procedural laws have its merits. If anyone’s been in an actual hearing or a trial in session, they would realize that nothing would be done without the strict rules governing the process, and the truth is often revealed during the cross-examinations and the presentation of evidence by the adverse parties. The courts also rule not only based on the law but on equity. The law is not only prescribed and remedies are ordered according to what is reasonable.
Then what is it that makes people fear the law yet not respect lawyers? Why do we entrust so much power to a profession that is not so trusted? Is it because lawyers are not honest?
Sam, Kirkland’s grandfather asks him if he’s a good, honest lawyer. Kirkland answers with a sarcastic tone that being honest doesn’t have much to do with being a lawyer. Sam replies back, “if you’re not honest, you’ve got nothing.” However, if all attorneys are completely honest, many defendants will not get a fair trial. We don’t want that. The issues and disputes that end up in court may be extremely complicated and confusing. Anyone can be the defendant – whether they meant to or not, and more importantly, judges will be more prone to be wrong if they only hear one side of the story. In that sense, although TV ads make you feel otherwise jaded, thank God there are plenty of defense attorneys.
If it’s not the law, and if it’s not the lawyers, why is it so difficult to achieve justice? Is the blindfold on lady justice getting in the way when she reads the scale and strikes that sword? I believe that regardless of how we might feel about the justice system we are on the right track and it’s a process in which we will ultimately build the most ideal system to achieve justice. Developments in technology, open public discussions, political debates, and new laws protecting individual rights are all examples of how we can and are advancing to construct a better justice system.
In “And Justice for All,” the defendant judge passes the polygraph although he later admits that he raped and assaulted the victim. Today’s DNA testing technology, and more advanced polygraph tests could have helped the prosecutor in cases like the one in “And Justice for All” where there were no witnesses other than the one planted by the defendant. Forensic use of DNA technology in criminal cases began in 1986, whereas the movie took place in 1979. North Carolina also permits the use of DNA evidence. As for polygraph (aka lie detector) test results, in many states including New York, Texas, Illinois, and the District of Columbia they are generally inadmissible. Some states do recognize them as admissible evidence and some permit them only to support probable cause for warrants.
Although I’m not sure how the law was back then, now no one in a courtroom would be able to shout things out, make comments, laugh and whistle without being held in contempt.
Human history is not that lengthy. Yet even after including prehistoric times, humans have been on this earth for only about 30 seconds out of a day in Earth’s time. Although we have achieved so much during the past few millennia, we are only discovering what we can do with what we have, not only with tangible materials but also with the products of our minds. As one of the greatest inventions and tools that was essential to our development and prosperity, the law and the justice system have evolved greatly, and will continue to change to one day achieve justice for all.
~Inchang Moses Sye, L’15~
Class Advisor – Susan Catterall, Esq.
Check out our July 23, 2015 issue of Proud of Our Mission to learn more about our schools, including:
If you are taking the Bar Exam in the near future, here are some popular bar exam articles from LawCrossing you might appreciate.
While the job market looks better than it did in the past, things still aren’t too hot for entry-level lawyers seeking employment opportunities. That’s why law students are beginning to branch out to other rewarding areas in the law,outside of practice, to enhance their career prospects.
Google has been a significant player in many facets of the patent world — as a creator,critic, litigator, buyer and big data indexer. Today, it’s taking the wraps off a product that is its flagship in the last of those categories: It’s launching a new version of the Google Patents search, which will now also incorporate related results of Prior Art and Google Scholar citations.
As an academic quarter begins, most instructors at Stanford don’t dwell much on the idea of motivating students. After all, students here are bright and inquisitive, and have excelled in academic pursuits in large part, it seems, because they know how to focus their energies and attend to business. And the start of a new quarter always brings with it a buzz of enthusiasm and adrenaline, in class and out. But as the quarter progresses and courses settle into a comfortable routine, student interest can appear to flag—and it’s at this point that the urge to reenergize students comes to the fore and instructors begin to ask how they can motivate their students to perform better.
How often have you had an email thread devolve into chaos and frustration, only to be solved quickly and easily with a phone call or in-person chat?
The Legal team at Adobe is constantly seeking creative new ways to better serve our customers and employees. Part of this effort has been the development of the Adobe Legal Department Style Guide. We use it as the foundation for the way we create and revise our agreements and policy and training materials to ensure that they are as clear and concise as possible, and that we communicate with a common voice. These efforts have already paid off by making our document processes more efficient and reducing translation and other costs. What’s more, less jargon makes everyone happy by making our internal and external communications easier to understand. Now we’d like to help others in the legal profession do the same. The Adobe Legal Department Style Guide is available to anyone free of charge under a Creative Commons license. We hope that you’ll find it of value to you and your organization.
Northern Light® today launched Millie™, the first market and competitive intelligence portal available free on the web. Millie is structured as a series of industry-specific dashboards, making it easy to find useful information in a self-service environment. Each dashboard presents news headlines about major companies and industry topics, and graphics depicting significant industry trends.
Just in time for teachers, students and families preparing to head back to school—the all new Office for Mac is here. Packed with a whole new set of features, Office 2016 for Mac is sure to help scholars of all ages do their best work. To help you get most out of the new Office for Mac, we’ve narrowed it down to our top 10.
The texts of proposed amendments to constitutions, draft constitutions, and recent constitutions can be published in a variety of sources. These documents might not exist in English translation, but only in the original language or vernacular. Here are some tips for locating new constitutional texts.
Recently, we had one of our student workers scan through previous blog content and choose a few of the ones she found most helpful as a current Charlotte Law student. We’ll be re-posting this content throughout the summer so it’s readily available to all of our incoming and returning students for Fall of 2015. This post originally ran in March of 2015.
This time we are reposting the 2008 ABA Journal listing which featured 25 of the best legal movies and we’ve added hyperlinks to the records in our own library catalog. Take a look and see what’s available. We might have something that will help you make the most of your relaxation time over Spring Break!
- To kill a mockingbird [videorecording]
- 12 angry men [videorecording]
- My cousin Vinny [videorecording]
- Anatomy of a murder [videorecording]
- Inherit the wind [videorecording]
- Witness for the prosecution : [DVD]
- Erin Brockovich [videorecording]
- The verdict [videorecording]
- Presumed innocent [videorecording]
- Judgment at Nuremberg [videorecording]
- A man for all seasons [videorecording]
- A Few good men [videorecording]
- Chicago [videorecording]
- Kramer vs. Kramer [videorecording]
- The paper chase [videorecording]
- Reversal of fortune [videorecording]
- Compulsion [videorecording]
- And justice for all [videorecording]
- In the name of the father [videorecording]
- A civil action [videorecording]
- Amistad [videorecording]
- Miracle on 34th Street [videorecording]
- THE ACCUSED (1988) Jodie Foster is a woman who is gang-raped in a bar and, when the rapists go free, goads a reluctant prosecutor to pursue the patrons who urged them on. The accused [videorecording]
- ADAM’S RIB (1949) George Cukor’s mannered comedy, with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as married lawyers who oppose each other in court. Adam’s rib [videorecording]
- BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT (1956) Dana Andrews is a writer who sets himself up on a murder rap to reveal the shortcomings of circumstantial evidence.
- THE CAINE MUTINY (1954) Humphrey Bogart is riveting in this adaptation of Herman Wouk’s complex novel about military authority and moral duty. The Caine mutiny [videorecording]
- CLASS ACTION (1991) A father and daughter clash in and outside the courtroom as they square off in a volatile product liability case. Class action [videorecording]
- THE CLIENT (1994) Susan Sarandon is an underwhelming lawyer who finds herself representing a young boy who has witnessed a Mafia hit. The Client [videorecording]
- COUNSELLOR AT LAW (1933) John Barrymore is a workaholic lawyer who is in danger of losing his family in this William Wyler film.
- THE COURT-MARTIAL OF BILLY MITCHELL (1955) Otto Preminger directs Gary Cooper in this tale of the real-life maverick general who thinks an airplane can sink a ship—and is court-martialed for proving it. The Court-martial of Billy Mitchell [videorecording]
- THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE (1997) A new attorney introduced into the world’s most powerful law firm discovers that its managing partner is morally challenged. Devil’s advocate [videorecording]
- THE FIRM (1993) Tom Cruise is recruited by a prestigious law firm that he gradually learns has a very sinister background. The Firm [videorecording]
- THE FORTUNE COOKIE (1966) Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon romp in this Billy Wilder comedy about a sleazy lawyer who talks a relative into feigning injury for the sake of a lawsuit.
- GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI (1996) The true story of efforts to bring to justice Byron De La Beckwith for the 30-year-old murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Ghosts of Mississippi [videorecording]
- INTOLERABLE CRUELTY (2003) The Coen brothers reveal their take on divorce law. George Clooney is at his toothy best.
- JAGGED EDGE (1985) Defense attorney Glenn Close gets close to a client, played by Jeff Bridges, who is on trial for the murder of his heiress wife. Jagged edge [videorecording]
- JFK (1991) Oliver Stone takes on New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s efforts to solve the Kennedy assassination. History yields to riveting storytelling.
- LEGALLY BLONDE (2001) Reese Witherspoon became one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood after ridiculing the elitism of Harvard Law. Legally blonde [videorecording]
- LIAR, LIAR (1997) A hilarious vehicle for Jim Carrey, who plays a lawyer who finds he is physically incapable of telling a fib. Liar liar [videorecording]
- MICHAEL CLAYTON (2007) George Clooney shines in this look at the dark underbelly of big-firm law. Michael Clayton [videorecording]
- MUSIC BOX (1989) Hungarian immigrant Mike Laszlo, accused of being a war criminal, asks his daughter (Jessica Lange) to defend him in court. She learns more about him than she wants to know.
- NORTH COUNTRY (2005) It’s one woman against the system: The extraordinary Charlize Theron plays a miner who sues the company. North country [videorecording]
- THE PELICAN BRIEF (1993) A law student discovers a plot to assassinate U.S. Supreme Court justices in this John Grisham adaptation. The pelican brief [videorecording]
- THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT (1996) Cameos abound in this portrayal of the trial of the renowned porn publisher. The people vs. Larry Flynt [videorecording]
- PRIMAL FEAR (1996) Richard Gere is the attorney and Edward Norton a young altar boy accused of killing a priest in a story whose plot twists and turns. Primal fear DVD 126 [videorecording]
- THE RAINMAKER (1997) Another John Grisham lawyer fights the system, this time with Matt Damon starring and Francis Ford Coppola directing. John Grisham’s The rainmaker [videorecording]
- A TIME TO KILL (1996) An earnest retelling of the Grisham novel about a racially charged killing in the Deep South. Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock spark. A time to kill [videorecording]