Justice for All
September 20, 2007
These words and ideas are mine and reflect only my opinions, but they are deep convictions and they have led me to forms some relationships with organizations that address some of the inequities I have observed in society.
Is the American ideal of liberty and justice for all a reality?
It may be more so in the setting of criminal law than practical law. Even in criminal law, the outcomes are often inadequate.
The Justice for All Act of 2004 (The Justice for All Act of 2004 (H.R. 5107, Public Law 108-405) is, like most legislation, a bit deceptive in its name. It covers an important, but severely limited issue of allowing victims to speak at sentencing hearings for perpetrators of crime against themselves.
In a system where there is little relevance in the trial and punishment to the victim and minimal relationship between the entities and issues involved and the final outcome, this is an important consideration - the right of the victim to address the victimizer and confront that person with the impact of his or her crime.
Of secondary, but great importance, is the impact that such speech makes upon juries and judges in sentencing.
What it fails to address is any notion of restorative justice, reconciliation, or restitution, but merely fits within the status quo of a systems that tends to run on its own steam in its own predetermined direction.
Nor does it address the inequities in the system where the poor are often inadequately represented, where dispute resolution in civil matters is weighed to the advantage of the privileged, where prisons are becoming factories for the training and production of hardened criminals, and where victims get warm and temporary feelings of being "vindicated," but no resolution comes to address restoring what they have lost.
It is a rather unimaginative system where advocates of reform generally look within the system as it is to revise and improve rather than affect radical overhaul in thinking and implementation of justice.
Justice is not retribution, but neither ought it be divorced from the emotional realities that crime actually damages relationships, causes pain, and brings loss to people. That is is true for crime, and equally true for injustices in business and family relationships that fall into the arena of civil law.
Other considerations in the matter of justice for all include assuring the integrity of the gathering and presentation of truth by enforcing civil rights protections to all citizens equally. It requires giving equal access to all citizens to courts and due process as a way of redressing civil concerns. It necessitates fairness that balances a sterile dispassionate process with a fair, compassionate, and empathetic cadre of real people dealing with real people.
There are some real heroes in the system and have recently featured one in a posting,
Criminal justice is meaningless and punishment is a mockery if the state is not compelled to prove its case against its citizens beyond a reasonable doubt with honesty and the purest of motives. It is equally meaningless unless every effort and overture has not been made toward restoration of the victim and, if possible, the broken relationships.
An adversarial system, at its best is designed to insure fairness. In practice, it sometimes circumvents the possibility of reconciliation, full disclosure of truth, public safety interests, and redemption of human potential. The awful truth is that we are all flawed human beings with an imperfect system and inadequate resources.
We just have to do the best we can, but we must keep striving.
A disturbingly and tragically growing minority of the population will come into contact with the criminal justice system as defendants or victims. Each must be afforded their rights and laws must address the process that insure accurate verdicts, appropriate sentences, and proper restitution.
However, a majority of Americans will come into contact with every day law, legal questions, contracts, covenants, and matters where legal advice could give them an advantage and, at least, a fair shake.
At the moment, we have the system we have. It is imperfect, but it is what it is and is among the best in history for large societies. we all partake of it and the question is, how well we can avail ourselves of our rights.
Everyone needs a will.
Everyone will sign legal papers at some point in their lives.
We all make major purchases. We all come into conflict with perplexing legal questions. Most of us marry and have children. We get sued or threatened with suits. We get traffic tickets, have accidents, incur liability, and have job related disputes - often between well meaning and decent parties.
Whenever possible, mediation is the best course. However, knowing the law and receiving good advice can often help people avoid legal entanglements, broken relationships, and financial hardships.
The sad fact is that most people fall into the great middle place between those who are entitled to free representation and those who can afford private counsel.
That was the place that Harland Stonecipher found himself in years ago and became the impetus for his vision to bring "Justice for All" to a reality for ordinary people through Pre-Paid Legal. Though I am an independent associate, my comments here in no way reflect their official position. What will accurately portray Pre-Paid Legal's views and story is a documentary set to air on Court TV on September 29. I urge my friends to watch and become informed. For more information, anyone can check out my links back to the company's web sites.
For more information on Pre-Paid Legal services, click picture or go to my site.
If you are interested in Identity Theft protection, check out the IdentityTheft Shield site.
If you are interested in referring others or developing your own business as a Pre-Paid Legal Independent Associate, go to the Get Paid Daily on the Internet site.
For my fellow theologians and Bible scholars who wish to do a quick overview of uses of the word, "justice' in scripture, GO TO THIS LINK.
In fact, the book of Proverbs informs the system some well that these stand on their own without necessity of comment.
”I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice …” - Proverbs 8:20
”The lips of a king speak as an oracle, and his mouth should not betray justice.” – Proverbs 16:10
”A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice.” – Proverbns 17:23
”It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the innocent of justice.” – Proverbs 18:5
”A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.” – Proverbs 19:28
”When a king sits on his throne to judge, he winnows out all evil with his eyes.” – Proverbs 20:8
“When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” – Proverbs 21:15
“Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully.” Proverbs 18:28
“Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court,” – Proverbs 22:22
”… do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?” – Proverbs 25:8
“By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down.” – Proverbs 29:4
”The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” – Proverbs 29:7
”If a wise man goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.” – Proverbs 29:9
”If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will always be secure.” – Proverbs 29:14
”Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the LORD that man gets justice.” – Proverbs 29:26
“Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." – Proverbs 31:19
(Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society)
The point is that it is an American, practical, and spiritual value - justice for ALL.
- Tom Sims The Dream Factory