Justice needs advocacy

“The existence of an appeal system is no safeguard of justice in the absence of adequate advocacy.”

Donald Boyd

It is commonly assumed that the right of appeal corrects injustice in a system. This is not true. It is adequate advocacy that begins the process of justice.

If one does not have access to adequate advocacy in any given system, then injustice will continue unidentified and unchecked in that system.

The legal profession has an adage – “The man who represents himself has a fool for a client and an ass for a lawyer.” This is tantamount to saying that everyone needs adequate advocacy. This is tantamount to saying that we need a National Justice Service free at the point of entry.

“Get a lawyer” is a cop-out. Only the very rich and the very poor can afford to have a lawyer, because the poor receive Legal Aid from the public purse.  Not only does this give the rich and the poor an advantage over middle-income earners, but it is contrary to natural justice.  If there is not equal access to legal process there is injustice. Those who feel the obligation to advise you to ‘get a lawyer’, should also feel the obligation to advise you where such a service is available and how it meets your needs.

Institutional advocacy

Each organisation should provide adequate advocacy. Usually an organisation pays for legal defence against outside attack, but it is just as common for an organisation to use that same legal set-up to crush an appeal from within its own ranks. An appeal system on its own is no safeguard for justice being done. One needs adequate advocacy.

Personal representation

Representing oneself is not advisable. Operating pro se (Latin: ‘for oneself’) 1. is not objective enough; 2. lacks the capacity to consult with others during a process and requires the ability to think on one’s feet; and 3. suffers from lack of familiarity with the legal framework and prior case law, which applies also to lawyers themselves, who usually specialise in only one or two areas of law.

Why would one want to represent oneself? 1. fundamentally, because one knows one’s own case better than any lawyer can. 2. changing lawyers when they are unavailable can be time-consuming and costly. 3. an ill-prepared advocate, one lawyer standing in at the last minute for another lawyer, can too easily make mistakes. 4. there may not be an available lawyer with the training to deal with a disabled, deaf or blind client or the multitude of other factors that can arise. 5. finance is the primary reason why one might not engage a lawyer. 6. many situations expect personal representation, such as an initial disagreement in one’s employment, a visit from law enforcement personnel, letters from government officials, meetings with social services, etc.

Education

At the very least, in this litigious age, we need to teach the basics of legal defence in primary and secondary schools. Literacy, composition and numeracy (the three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic) are little help when faced with dismissal by a cantakerous boss abusing an employee who does not know how to defend themselves. In a former age, young men learned pugilistic and fighting skills, but in our age one needs a law degree to defend oneself. Even a high IQ is not sufficient.

Trade unions and Big Brother

It was the inability of the common man to stand against bullying employers that led to the development of trade unions and employment law. Now that the Big Brother state is controlling life at the domestic level, individuals need equivalent safeguards at the personal level. Inadequacy requires advocacy.

Civilised society

Just as one should not need to learn fisticuffs and self-defence in a civilised society, neither should one need to be a lawyer to defend oneself. There should be ready access to available advocacy in any given environment that threatens one’s civil and religious rights.

“Jesus said: Also, woe unto you lawyers! for you load men with difficult loads, and you yourselves do not touch the loads with one of your fingers … Woe unto you, lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge.”

Jesus Christ: Luke 11:46,52

“If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

The apostle John: : 1Jn 2:1

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