When you work in the adversary system of law, specifically criminal defence, you are working to protect a person’s liberty.
Liberty is big.
It is the big goal, the overarching principle at issue.
Liberty IS the face of justice in the end. It is the principal legal and moral ethic by which you are guided in criminal advocacy within the rules of the system in which you act.
(Art above by Stacy Innerst)
It is not unusual to be confronted with questionable power grabs by the Executive (the state), those in the law and law enforcement. In the last 12 months or so, we have seen charges laid that should never have been laid. As a lawyer, your commitment to liberty and freedom against the power of the state is re-inforced again and again when you see multiple Nolle Prosequis and No Case To Answers occurring.
The people pay for this waste of tax payer funds.
Sadly, many of the people charged never recover.
“liberty is the eternal creator of history and itself the subject of every history. As such it is on the one hand the explanatory principle of the course of history, and on the other the moral ideal of humanity” said Benedetto Croce in his History as the Story of Liberty.
He added, “to assert that liberty is dead is the same as saying that life is dead, that its mainspring is broken“.
Liberty, of course, is made up of other very important goals like justice where no man is guilty until proven beyond a reasonable doubt after a trial consistent with constitutional and legal requirements.
These goals and requirements include things like:-
the presumption of bail, presumption of innocence, burden of proof, proof beyond reasonable doubt, speedy trial, fair trial, right to a lawyer, confrontation of witnesses and other evidentiary and procedural rules.
In doing this kind of advocacy you realise that history is the history of liberty.
You do advocacy like this to achieve one thing – to make the powers that be, the more powerful, the state, establish “criminal guilt”. It is the only concept of guilt we know in the common law legal system and one of the main challenges to liberty. Everybody is subject to it equally-or should be-when facing charges.
The eternal struggle for freedom truly manifests itself when one’s liberty is at stake in a criminal prosecution.
To give up on that struggle would mean the death of liberty. As a criminal defence lawyer, the principal of liberty becomes your overarching ethic of advocacy.