Justice vs. The Legal System

An Opinion


Back around 1975 I came up with a "saying": "Any intersection between justice and the legal system is purely coincidental."

Some have argued that my "saying" is too harsh a criticism of our legal system. So, this article is offered to provide an explanation of exactly what I mean. The answer involves definitional, perceptional, and reality issues.

It is no stretch to state that the USA has the best legal system in the world - on paper and, for the most part, in practice.

However, we've all seen where the rich, the famous, and/or the powerful (politically and financially) are treated by the legal system differently than for those less fortunate. This, clearly, is an implementation problem - not an "on paper" (i.e., as the laws are written) problem.

Additionally, we've all heard of cases where the police or the prosecution has failed to comply with strict "rules"; thus, setting free a criminal where evidence is "iron clad" as to the criminal's guilt - such as a confession. A quick example: A person is arrested for the commission of a crime and confesses on the spot. However, the police fail to read the defendant the "Miranda Rights". The confession becomes null and void and may not be used in trial. Other evidence must be brought forth to ensure a conviction. If there is no other "hard" evidence, the criminal goes free.

As to "Justice", there is a definitional problem here - the connotation of the word is subjective, not "objective". What is "Justice" to me may be vastly different than what is "Justice" to you. The implementation of "Justice" can become very personal very quickly.

Let me offer a somewhat simplistic example:

Should a person enter my home "uninvited" and attempt to steal my "baubles, bangles, or beads" and I am at home or enter my home while the attempt is in progress, I have the training, capability, and abject willingness to remove that person from the gene pool - and would do so. I feel that such action is "Justice" being meted out. I have no fear of legal repercussions as I can easily and successfully claim "self-defense".

Someone else may feel my view of "Justice" in that case as being "far, far from being commensurate with the crime". Opinions vary!

The above simplistic example dealt with minor theft. Consider if the criminal act involved harm coming to one you loved. One's opinion of what "Justice" is might change rather rapidly.

Further, our views of what is "Justice" seem to vary as to whom is affected. For example, the daughter of a neighbor down the street is sexually attacked. We would all cry for the swift, legal action against the assailant. Now, if that daughter happens to be your daughter, your view of what is "Justice" may immediately shift to a more "non-legal system" view.

Simply put, the fact that "opinions vary" is exactly why no legal system of man-written laws, even properly administered, can guarantee "Justice" - such can only guarantee following "what is written". And that is probably the best and most appropriate that can be accomplished.