We’d like to think that in the United States we are all equal under the law. Okay you can stop laughing now. In the real world we get the justice we can pay for.
I’ve spent way too much time sitting in courtrooms. Not recently, thank god. Some of that time was while on jury duty. Other times it was in support of other people. Once it was because I was involved in a labor case that went to the State Supreme Court.
You quickly learn from observation why prison is full of poor people. They are the ones without lawyers or really really bad lawyers. When you see a lawyer come into the room with his shirt half tucked in clutching a random pile of loose papers, you know his client doesn’t stand a chance. I’ve also seen elderly lawyers who appeared to be suffering from dementia. The opposing lawyer had to help with the paperwork so they could wrap up the case.
The labor case concerned safety issues for firefighters. We were told, by inside connections, that while the court thought we were in the right, that they’d side with municipalities. If they sided with labor it would have cost cities some money. When we got in court that’s exactly how the case went. The fix was in before we even entered the room. About a dozen years those very same safety concerns bit me in the butt and I almost died in a fire. My injuries forced me into early retirement.
One of those state judges, David Souter, was later appointed to the US Supreme Court. That did little for my respect for the court.
Once when called to jury duty the judge asked if we had any problems with the case. I raised my hand and told the judge I disagreed with the law in question and wouldn’t convince anyone for violating it.
The judge said, “The law is the law.”
I said, “I don’t care.”
He didn’t like that or me at all. Frankly, I think he would have loved to have a reason to throw me in jail. In the end I was removed from the case.
In the legal system money talks. It’s almost comical when wealthy people do poorly in court. Recently we have the Alex Jones case where his lawyer gave the prosecution unfettered access to Jone’s phone records. That was a 45.2 million dollar mistake. Where the heck did he get that lawyer? The discount Walmart bin?
Of course, then you have people who are so arrogant that they think they are above the law. They are the ones who ignore those high priced lawyers and get into trouble.
In the end though, it’s poor people who suffer the most under our system. If we were all equal under the law, the prison population would look much like the general US population. It certainly does not.
What we can do about it is a subject for another blog.