Monday, November 12, 2007

Of Counsel, a Legal Journal with Soul

Of Counsel offers a unique perspective on our legal system - a human one. Maggie, a former public defender turned private attorney, writes about "legal issues in Georgia and other Southern States... court rulings, and issues surrounding criminal defense." While I am excited to find a site that will discuss local cases as well as national ones, as I read the blog for the first time it was this paragraph that moved me:
The thing that really struck me, though, was trying to see this all through a defendant’s eyes. Especially one that’s in for their first crime and has never been through the script before. I saw a man who had done pretty decently for himself who’d lost his job from a theft case and will probably lose any one he could get in the future now that he’s got a record. I thought how foreign this must be for this man, whereas for me, sitting through pleas made me feel at home as a lawyer. And then something happened that happens quite often with some judges. The Judge started telling stories, giving advice, going off on tangents. It started with semi-relevant information, but devolved into discussions of food and restaurants and such. I wondered if it made the man feel strange to have people recommending places for lunch and smiling at the Judge’s jokes while he was destroying his life.
Discussions of feminist issues are never far removed from discussions of laws, their implementation, and their ramifications. Yet, I find that it is easy to oversimplify the issues that face us when I forget that governance by the people involves, well, actual people -with all their failings and complexities - running our most sacred institutions. As I read the above description of the emotions displayed on one man's face as he realized that people were laughing and chatting while his hopes and securities were being stripped from him, I realized that I too often think of our legal system as being impersonal - a system of rules that, if they were only written properly, could be applied in a uniform and sterile manner. Of Counsel consistently gives insightful accounts of the human issues that complicate and impact cases. While I will certainly learn a lot about the legal issues that face my region and my country from reading Of Counsel, I hope it will also lend me a greater ability to see the humanity behind the sometimes complex issues that we discuss here. Go check it out, and send some love!


Casmall said...

Wake up Maggie..I think I got something to say to you.
How bout I say it on your blog so you'll be sure to read it.

La Pobre Habladora said...

Look, I like her too, hence the post. But I didn't mean that I want her stealing our commenters!

How come my readers never serenade ME???