A Legal System, Not a Justice System

An excerpt from Humbling and Humility

I don’t think we have a justice system,” Sid declared, back with his notes. “We have a legal system.”

Nods of agreement from some in the group, confused looks from others. What do you mean, Sid? Isn’t that the same thing, and aren’t you just playing with words? Sid said what he meant is that the system isn’t necessarily designed to mete justice as we expect it to do. Because justice is, in most cases, relative; what is just for one may not be so for another. It is simply a system of laws and enforcement, with courts serving to officiate over determinations regarding laws broken and the manner of such infraction. In short, it is, like any other government system, prone to manipulation and corruption, though it has been designed to be impartial and fair, more or less, with checks and balances built in.

Honesty is not always the best policy within the legal system,” ventured Sid.

I could attest to that from personal experience. Consequences of my honesty with law enforcement included arrest, prosecution, and this re-education program. The police report filed, and conversations with Mindy, my lawyer, helped confirm that for me.

I recall, when questioned by officer Gormon Grigorevic prior to my arrest, telling him everything that I knew had transpired: my wife’s absence until late in the night, her lack of response to repeated calls to her cell phone, her return past 10pm, and my requests that she and I discuss that disagreement downstairs. She had ignored my repeated requests and those of my son as well. I entered the kids’ bedroom, pulled on her arm as she lay on the bed, insisting that she come down to discuss the matter. I described the ensuing emotional discussions downstairs, in the course of which she repeatedly called a non-emergency police number, disconnecting the line at each instance. I had no qualms in describing everything that happened to Gormon as comprehensively as could be recalled. It’s fair to say I trusted the police then.

It was Mindy who told me that Gormon, who expressed surprise in his conversation with my wife, had told my spouse that with what I was telling them, they’d have no problem arresting and prosecuting me. It was as if an adversarial side was chosen by law enforcement personnel, and honesty by the other side then became helpful ammunition for the system. The other cop, of Hispanic ethnicity––from Feliz, his name––who accompanied Gormon, had looked at me sympathetically as matters unfolded that night. Gormon was in charge, and I had been deemed the criminal. Judge-jury-executioner mode again.


About Rian Nejar

Rian Nejar is an Indian-American author. He trained and worked as an engineer in India, lived briefly in the Middle East, and arrived in America in the early 90's. After a Master’s degree in electrical engineering in America, he worked as an academic instructor, engineer, entrepreneur, and technical writer over the two decades since. Humbling and Humility (http://goo.gl/FKUnCM) is his first mainstream nonfiction. He lives and writes in the Southwest United States.
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