No justice system is perfect, but ours better than most
Readers of your opinion pages know that we in Western Nevada County have robust and vigorous conversations about public issues.
It’s a credit to our community that we care enough to speak out. Discussions on this page often touch on our criminal justice system and some criticize our DA’s office and criminal defense attorneys.
As the officers of the Nevada County Bar Association, which represents all the attorneys who live and work here, we offer our perspective on those criticisms. Ours is an adversarial legal system Ð it assumes that each party to a dispute will have an attorney who will argue the best case he or she can for his or her client. The assumption is that jurors of lay people and professional judges can get “the real truth” when both sides of a case are presented well.
It may be disconcerting to see an apparent injustice done when the DA obtains a conviction or a sentence that seems too heavy or too light based on what we know about it from news reports or where a defense lawyer “gets somebody off.” However, the essence of a democratic legal system is that everyone Ð ideally, at least Ð gets their day in court. Any of us could find ourselves in court some day, as an accused, a victim, or a family member or loved one of those involved. If that time comes, each of us would want the most energetic and talented lawyer we could find on our side of the case.
So we encourage debate on these issues. Let those of us who work in the justice system know how you feel about our work. But be aware, too, that the genius of our system is that legal advocates working for their clients Ð the state or the accused Ð help judges and juries seek justice. No system is perfect, but our founders believed our system better than the judge-dominated courts they experienced as colonists. We have no doubt it is better than what passes for justice in much of the world today.
Michael G. Colantuono, President
Stephen C. Baker, Vice President
Debra S. Sitzberger, Treasurer
Edward Batista, Secretary
Nevada County Bar Association
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