The recent headlines have been filled with the sad death of the sportswear model, Jasmine Fiore, who was viciously murdered allegedly by her husband or ex-husband depending on what story you read. A few days later, it was reported that the “reality star” had apparently taken his own life by hanging himself in a seedy motel room. In one particular article, the writer commented that it was unfortunate that the victim’s family would now not get justice. It made me wonder what his definition of justice was. Did he mean it was unfortunate that the family would not get to see the killer prosecuted in a public forum? If justice is an eye for an eye, then wasn’t justice served by the alleged killer’s death? Or was it unjust because the accused got to determine his own fate, where Ms. Fiore did not. And what about the parents of the accused who still believe their son was incapable of such an act? Without a trial will he forever be called the accused as opposed to the killer?
Justice is defined by Webster’s as the quality of being just, impartial, or fair. Another dictionary defines it as moral righteousness. Another defines it as the assignment of punishments and rewards. All of those definitions are wide open to interpretation. I think about justice every time I stand in front of a Judge and ask him or her for a lesser sentence for my client than what the State is asking for. Time and time again I realize that justice and fairness are not always the same thing. We, through our lawmakers, set the standards of justice by defining crimes and setting the range of punishments for those crimes. But have you ever wondered about justice when you hear that the man who beat his wife got probation and the man that beat his dog went to prison? Is that just or fair? Or when the man who steals goes to prison for a year but the woman who kills someone while DUI goes to the county jail for 90 days. Is that just or fair?
What is my point? I don’t really have one, except to say that justice is something we should all care about all the time. While it may seem like an abstract concept, it’s not. It’s real. It matters not only in courtrooms, but in life. A victim of a horrible crime once asked me how I could represent the horrible person who had attacked him. He walked away in disgust before I could answer. He had a right to his anger and I respected that. But I have a right to my ideals and even in this jaded world, I still believe in justice. I believe that the accused deserve their day in court and they need good defenders. The victims deserve good prosecutors and we all need good judges. My belief in justice allows me to do what I do. What do you believe in?