Sunday, December 21, 2014

Discrimination and Justice - From A Certain Point of View

My law partner and another lawyer we work with got a large verdict in an age discrimination case last week. I think the jury got it right. My partner told me that she felt the Cosmos, or something God-like if not God, was in their favor. I reminded her of the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, "the moral arc of time is long, but it bends toward justice."  The quote resonated with her. I considered a case I tried where I disagreed with what the jury decided. I felt no Cosmic aid, no ultimate Justice.  Everything about Justice, or life, really depends on one's point of view.

I try, unsuccessfully most times, to consider all points of view in my cases, and, hopefully, in life. Everything in which I believe depends on a certain point of view. Police officers shooting unarmed Black men disturbs me. I am White and a woman, and no one has ever pulled a gun on me or anyone in my family and I hope no one ever does.  Yesterday, two New York police officers were randomly gunned down by a deranged man upset by the Ferguson and Staten Island killings. This was another horrible and senseless killing. I have people with whom I am "friends" on Facebook who, like me, are outraged by what happened in Ferguson and New York. Today someone wanted me to participate in a group called "Police Lives Matter."  I agree that police lives do matter. Yet, I found the request ironic, since this person had an unarmed, white, loved one who was shot and killed by a police officer. I suspect the person advocating the group identifies with white police officers more than the unarmed African-Americans who were shot, even though the person's loved one was killed in a similar fashion.  The only difference I can see in the advocates allegiance with the new group is the police officer victims were not Black, so this person whose White loved one was also gunned down by a police officer doesn't relate to the Black victim in Ferguson. Race appears to be the only difference. It's apparent that our feelings are dependent on our points of view, this time about race.

When I was a kid, Vietnam was the biggest issue. I, as a child, believed, like the sayings on posters, that there would be no war if no soldiers showed up. That was a very simplistic and naive notion. Yet, the notion remains with me that people would be more merciful, and less insular, if we all could just understand the points of view of others. Empathy and compassion are the key to most of society's problems. It's hard, when filled with anger, to step back and try to understand what motivates others with whom we disagree. But, if we do not try to understand what it's like to be a Black youth, a White police officer, or anyone who is frightened or scared or angry or defeated, we cannot progress. Without empathy and compassion, there can be no resolution. Our prisons are over-crowded.  Our streets are often dangerous. Our criminal justice system is dysfunctional. We need to change. I hope Dr. King was right, that the arc of time bends toward Justice.  We all need to expand our points of view. Otherwise, this society will continue to fail.


  1. Yes, all lives matter!! The great French socialist Simone Weil put it best: "If you don't care about every martyred child, you don't care about any of them." And, everyone deserves due process--it is just as wrong to deny due process in 2015 to a white cop in Ferguson, Missouri accused of murdering a black person as it would be to deny due process in 2015 to a black man in Carroll County, Mississippi accused of raping a white woman. Threatening race riots to get convictions in criminal cases in lynch mob justice: As the great Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said of the jury in 1913 that was intimidated into convicting the innocent Leo Frank by a mob chanting the 1913 equivalent of "No Justice, No Peace": "Due process does not become due process by securing the assent of a terrified jury." It is sad that in modern America a lot of lawyers are so terrified of being accused of being racists that they will not stand up for all Americans right to due process. In Christ, Ernest Evans

  2. Do black police officers shooting unarmed white men disturb you? Or is it only the stories you hear about on the news. Do white police officers shooting unarmed white men disturb you?
    Maybe your "friend" that asked you to join the police lives matter group understands that their white family member was doing something wrong that caused the evil white police officer to shoot the family member. Maybe you think the family should have taken to the streets to riot, I mean protest. Empathy my ass you have no concept. More unarmed (unarmed doesn't mean not dangerous) white people are killed by evil police officers every year.

    I think your partner said that God or something God like pulled together to help you with your case. That's probably because the partner knew it was a bullshit case that should never have seen the inside of a courtroom. HA.

    1204 am

  3. Lynne,

    It is disappointing to read your post regarding unarmed human beings having been shot by Police. I too am white (Caucasian) and have never had a gun pointed at me by a police officer (or anyone else for that matter), however I have never committed a strong armed robbery against any store owner, employee or person.

    I am not an advocate of the militarization of our police forces throughout the United States, yet this has been sponsored by our current and by past administrations. Yes, I am aware that excessive force is being used against some citizens of our country and that those incidents are unconstitutional. It should also be noted that selling loosies in New York became is federal offense as legislated by our current administration's Justice Department. Before the discussion turns to a city's right to tax, try to remember the Stamp Tax and Tea Tax Acts.

    As an attorney I hope that you have respect for all laws, and for those deemed unconstitutional, that they be challenged in the local courts and if necessary at highest courts of the United States.

    Your Uncommon Courage article does not speak to the loss of life of the Mexican Nationals and our border patrol agent murdered by weapons sold to the drug cartels by the Department of Justice with the implementation of the "Fast and Furious" program and hidden from the light of day by the President's executive privilege.

    Nor does it espouse outrage at the claim that our elected officials tried to lay the blame on the store owner in Arizona when in fact tape recorded conversations with the ATF proved it was the ATF's insistence that the transactions take place, above the objections of the store owner.

    With my fellow citizens suffering historically low workforce rates and with the hurdles imposed by thousands of government regulations it is no wonder that it is more difficult to spur our economy and the creation of domestic jobs.

    When General Electric can post three billion dollars in profits, and not pay taxes on those profits, after submitting a 25,000 page tax return, and to have the average worker in this country have their paycheck strong-armed from them, I would hope that you would see the injustice and want to blog about the damage done by the financial rape of the American citizen.

    That would be an example of Uncommon Courage.

    I would certainly enjoy reading more of your posts that do consider broader points of view so that I knew you understood more about the "cause and effect" of the actions and inactions of our politicians and of attorney's who lack the morale conviction, and that do have the ability and opportunity, to confront those issues.

    It would help me to believe that you have a greater degree of understanding than your articles lead me to believe.

    Lynne, try to remember to be more inclusive, even with those that may differ in opinion from yours.


    An anonymous response.

  4. Dear Lynne,

    Thank you for this post, I appreciate your opinion. I particularly like the following:
    “I try, unsuccessfully most times, to consider all points of view in my cases, and, hopefully, in life.”
    “Yet, the notion remains with me that people would be more merciful, and less insular, if we all could just understand the points of view of others.”

    While I disagree with your stated views on several issues, let me give you a different perspective to consider. I will purposely not reveal my race, sex, age, etc., so as not to bias your opinion of my thoughts. Let my words stand alone and speak to you, if you care to listen.

    When you write—“ Police officers shooting unarmed Black men disturbs me.”—are you implying that you’re not disturbed by people of other races being shot? Men, women, children, white, asian, latino, etc.? And why do you repeat the media-promoted inflammatory term “unarmed” when describing a man who assaulted the officer, refused commands, and then charged at the officer? If an unarmed giant broke into your home and began assaulting your family, would you not use deadly force if necessary to stop the attack?

    “Yesterday, two New York police officers were randomly gunned down by a deranged man upset by the Ferguson and Staten Island killings.” If an armed bystander had sensed what was about to happen, and proactively shot the deranged man, saving the officers lives, do you think the hero would be hailed or scorned by the public? I’m confident that many of the anti-police protesters would be calling for his/her arrest.

    “Our prisons are over-crowded. Our streets are often dangerous. Our criminal justice system is dysfunctional.” I agree with your sentiments here. Let’s examine them one by one:

    Our prisons are over-crowded. Is this not evidence that so many people are violating the law that our capacity to house them has been outstripped by the current infrastructure? More prisons, sentencing reforms, other measures?

    Our streets are often dangerous. This implies, of course, that there are violence-prone individuals currently free to prey upon the innocent. Increased proactive police presence? Establishment of a very clear harsh punishment for offenders? No leniency for those willfully disturbing our civil society? In respect to young children, do you believe that they benefit more from a strict guideline of punishment/reward or rather a “no-rules” environment of upbringing? Is it not true that the vast majority of violent crime in KCMO is committed by a small subgroup who tend to come from poor, unstructured, undisciplined households? Would it be possible to route young offenders into compulsory military service to provide structure and discipline into their lives?

    Our criminal justice system is dysfunctional. Is this simply the result from inefficient "big government" bureaucracy, or perhaps because those functioning within the current system are not incentivized to streamline the process? The current system exists in it's present state for a reason. If enough people wanted it to be different, then it would be changed.

    Thanks for allowing me to “expand my point of view.” I generally try to follow society’s rules, have never been arrested, have never been on government aid (other than student loans), wish to do my own thing and be left alone and leave others alone unless invited otherwise.
    Thank you again.