Law vs. Justice

I am a curious writer – one who wants to know how the world works. As I wrote my manuscript, The Bear: In the Middle of Between, I loomed over the court room scene where my main character fights for justice from all the damage that has been done to her. The most amazing truth came to light as I focused on this scene. Claudia, my main character, finds out the hard way that law and justice are two very different principles. The majority of cases in our law system stem on whether a particular law has been violated or not. If the law is broken then a sentence is delivered. If the law is not broken, an acquittal occurs.

Astonishingly, Claudia and I found out that justice is not a part of our legal system. Justice is a quality or a sense of entitlement for a loss – such as life, property, or reputation. No justice can be served to the person who kills an innocent woman or man. The perpetrator will be sentenced to prison because he violated the law that prohibits killing. Whether or not I agree with the verdict, or feel that it is fair, the fact remains that the judge/jury decides if a law has been broken. Justice from a broken law depends on our expectations.

In the recent conviction of Mohamed Noor, a former Minneapolis police officer who was found guilty of third-degree murder of Justine Damond, people cried for justice in the killing of an innocent woman. Noor was found guilty because he broke a law, not because Justine was a remarkable woman. As author Richard Greelis wrote in a recent StarTribune editorial, “There is no justice when an innocent life is taken. Whatever sentence the judge comes up with will be considered just by some and a miscarriage of justice by others.” I believe Mr. Greelis’ description is accurate. BUT, we ask, what about our sorrows and sufferings? By our legal system, the only mandate that matters is if a law has been broken.

So, what do we do now with fighting for justice? Should we fight at all? As a principle, justice must prevail, at least in our hearts. Without a sense of justice, our lives would be distraught, and our beliefs would be forever in flux.

When I think of justice, I think about all the individuals, who for decades were sexually abused at the hands of Catholic priests. Or, all the children who are sexually abused by parents. What is justice like for these victims? For us? For me? Priests and parents break the law but few are incarcerated. The Catholic Church settles lawsuits with money not prison terms – as if money can return a child’s innocence or lost years. Money is not the cure for such savage disregard for children. Perpetrators must be penalized and sent to prison because the law is broken. Period.

My goal is to help abused children, who are now adults, find our own sense of justice where our lives are filled with exceptional quality and love.

Never. Give. Up. On. Justice.

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