LSAT Kung Fu Blog / 1L Summer Week 3: The Great Divide
1L Summer Week 3: The Great Divide
I went to General Sessions Court yesterday, and to Juvenile Court today. I’ve been to both places before: GS Court in my own county for a traffic ticket (I WAS FRAMED I TELL YOU) and Juvenile Court in a nearby county many times as a CASA volunteer (you can really help out some kids, your local court system, and therefore the larger Cause of Justice if you can spare some time to volunteer for CASA. Do one year before you start law school (it’s probably too much to do while you’re in law school)).
It strikes me that if you want to understand America as it is today, you should go to court. On the outside, it’s usually a grand old pile. It’s intended, I think, to symbolize the central place of regard in which we were meant to hold the law in this country. Inside, it stinks of sweat and unwashed hair and unwashed clothes and a collective million years of cigarette smoke. There are torn jeans (but not the kind you pay $200 for) and stained shirts and wailing babies in just diapers. The only ones in suits are the lawyers. The building is suffused with the nearly-palpable miasma of people who are fighting over scraps. When scraps are all you have, they’re worth fighting over.
There is sadness and anger. There is greed and umbrage, pettiness and vindictiveness and suffering and anxiety and even real fear, and there is the bored take-a-number posture of the clerks and the judge and most of the lawyers. The railing that divides the open court from the closed well in front of the judge may as well be a 30-foot concrete monolith, so tidily does it divide the castes in the courtroom. The lawyers here aren’t rich (you don’t get rich suing or defending people fighting over scraps), but they are clean. And they are separate, and education (and the money that makes it possible and also accrues as its result) is the difference. Did you know there’s a large body of evidence showing that disabled people have much higher smoking rates than the population at large? And that people with disabilities are poorer? Why do you think that is? I mean that as only an example of what I’m talking about. You don’t have to have a disability to have been born in the wrong county to parents who do work that only-just-barely keeps you fed and clothed, so that you never even think about college and instead skip your last two years of high school and get a GED so you can get a job that pays you just enough that you can (mostly) afford rent on a trailer until you have some expense you didn’t expect and you never even think about talking to your landlord or anyone who might be in a position to work with you until things have somehow gotten so far south that you’re being sued because why would you even think to talk; talking just puts you in a position where they can see you and you’re not sure you want to be seen.
So many of these cases could have been resolved so long ago, way before they got here. I mean, not all of them. But lots of them. It strikes me as foolish that we’ve constructed a system that seems designed to lead to this crowded, defeated result. We’ve spent the last 40 years in a War on Drugs, cutting taxes and cutting social services of every kind, and this is where we are now. Go to court. Look around. Tell me if you think this is working. Maybe we could try something else.
Dang, man. Now I'm feeling down, and the whole point of the whole deal is that we go to law school to try to fix this stuff. Chin up, Charlie!
Questions? Comments? Complaints? Post them below, or shoot me an email.
Be good to one another, for we need it now more than maybe ever,
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