Friday, January 27, 2017

Liars and Lawyers

Liars and Lawyers
Jennifer E. Miller

G’s class has been assigned a school project. They are to decorate their Valentines card boxes in an unusual way by adorning them with a 3D model of a community building of their choice. At the dinner table we throw around ideas. She isn’t interested in stores or coffee shops because many of her classmates have already decided to use those. She wants something original. We talk about the hospital or the library. She sets her sights on the fire station.

Say what? Obviously, we suggest the police station instead. That’s not interesting, she tells us. Finally, I propose the courthouse. “It looks like a castle,” I say.

“Really? Lemme see,” G demands.

I promptly pull up an internet photo on my iPhone.

“Ooooo! It does look like a castle!” Her eyes are big and wide.

“One side can be the front of the courthouse. The other side can show the inside with the courtrooms and the people working in them like the liars, I mean lawyers,” I say.

“What?” G asks.

“Liar, lawyer, they sound alike.”

G looks at her dad. “What’s mom talking about?”

“Mom just misspoke.” T shoots me an evil eye.

“Ok ok. I’ll rephrase. Defense attorney and liar sound the same.”

T throws his hands on top of his head.

“What’s a defense attorney?” G asks.

T answers before I do anymore damage. “It’s a lawyer hired to defend a bad guy when he or she goes to trial. They want the bad guy to be found not guilty.”

“But what if the bad guy is guilty? How could they say he’s not guilty when he is?”

“They try to prove the bad guy isn’t guilty by keeping certain information, or evidence, out of court.”

“If the information is important, isn’t that truth? Everyone is supposed to tell the truth in court!” exclaims G.

“Yes, but sometimes the court has wrong information and the liar’s—defense attorney’s—job is to fix it. They aren’t all truth twisters,” T explains.

“What’s a truth twister?” G asks confused.

“When someone doesn’t tell all the truth, or only part of their story is truthful, we sometimes say they bend, or twist, the truth. And once in a while, lawyers do this to win cases,” I say. I thought this to be a rational explanation.

“That’s not very nice,” she says.

“Not all lawyers are liars. Not all defense attorneys are truth twisters. Some are respectful and do their job fairly,” T says.

T’s work involves a fair amount of trials and courtroom time with prosecutors. Sometimes they are up against private defense attorneys, other times public defenders. I thought of the countless cases he’s complained about, where the public defender has concocted some ridiculous notion and presented it as ‘reasonable doubt.’ This becomes frustrating because they twist the truth or take things out of context in order to get their client off the hook, or even mock the prosecution side. However, that's the legal game; it’s no secret it works this way.

“Public defender and liar sound similar; don’t you think?” I say blankly.

“No, they sound noth—” T pauses in thought for a moment. Then he turns to G. “Mom’s right. Public defender and liar do sound alike.”

Copyright 2017 by Jennifer E. Miller

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