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The Grinding Wheels of Justice

by: Guest Blogger Rafe Banks

Some quick random thoughts prompted by Lawrence Zimmerman’s blog post. Lawrence’s use of the term “grinding wheels” really struck home with me.

I don’t represent as many minorities as a lot of lawyers but I do see a lot of clients who, through circumstance or frankly their own actions, are being ground down by the wheels of the criminal justice system.

Although I come from a relatively affluent background in a small southern town and had a stellar education, I feel for these people. Sometimes you look at a situation and say, “That’s just unfair. I need to help.” For those individuals I can take on a pro bono (or reduced fee) case to assist. Fortunately, I have partners in the law firm that willingly allow me this privilege. But pushing back against the grinding wheels is an uphill battle.

On occasion, I will run across a prosecutor who recognizes unfairness or the downward spiral the system itself creates. Probation. Violation of probation. Jail. Violation of probation again. PDC, etc. I was a prosecutor many years ago and I hope I was able then to see unfairness and the traps the system sets for people. Those prosecutors exist and I salute them - but they are the exception rather than the rule.

Judges. Just as with prosecutors, on occasion I will come across a judge that clearly recognizes unfairness and attempts to do the right thing. Where there is the will there is a way. Unfortunately again, this is the exception rather than the rule. People get plugged into a pre-existing matrix because we have to move our cases along.

However, even with all of it faults and inconsistencies, we still have the finest system in the world and I am proud to do my little part each day.