Monday, October 25, 2010

Who really represents the people?

I was watching the British version of Law & Order the other night on BBCAmerica and realize there was something terribly wrong with the open of the show.
"In the criminal justice system the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the Crown Prosecutors/district attorneys who prosecute the offenders."
The police and the prosecutors represent the state, an artificial construct used to instill order on society. The agents of the state routinely ignore the prohibitions of the Bill of Rights in the name of enforcing order. The police have made a mockery out of the Fourth Amendment and, on a daily basis, prosecutors argue that the Constitution doesn't mean what it says when it stands in the way of a conviction.

The people are represented not by the police or by the prosecutors, but by the criminal defense bar. Criminal defense attorneys stand beside those no else will and defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

It is hardly in the "people's" interest for the police to be able to enter their homes or cars at will and conduct witch hunts. It is hardly in the "people's" interest to deny one the right to confront his accusers face-to-face. It is hardly in the "people's" interest to allow junk science into the courtrooms. It is hardly in the "people's" interest to allow courts to shift the burden of proof from the state to the accused.

It's not always popular to stand beside the accused and to fight for him or her, but those men and women who choose to do so are freedom's last defenders.

No comments: