Radical Lawyers Their Role in the Movement and in the

Radical Lawyers Their Role in the Movement and in the - Jonathan Black This should be required reading for every law school graduate.

Well, maybe not the contract lawyers. We lost them a long time ago.

A collection of essays by lawyers in the late sixties and early seventies as well as letters and interviews by defendants themselves. Black Panthers and those in the student movement. All the contributions are excellent. They challenge that secret self-satisfied righteousness we have when we are fighting for a cause. A good trial, a clever motion, an indignant bail argument. These are window dressing. Before we can claim to be fighting for a cause, we have to take a good look at how we undermine it. As “officers of the court,” defense lawyers are too often complicit in perpetuating the same injustice sought to be overcome.

The justice system is designed to isolate and wear down defendants. When those taking collective action are arrested, they are divided in the court. Sometimes, in rote form, the lawyer works for the best interest of the individual client and manages to strip away the most effective tool. Solidarity. At times, being a good lawyer is not about expertise, it’s about identifying with the client. It’s about articulating the client’s politics or experience. It’s about making arguments that don’t fit in with the rules of evidence. It’s about pushing the limits of the justice system itself. Sometimes, believe it or not, the law should actually be about justice. Not the idealized, Corinthian-column type of justice. Not the justice found in case law and doctrines. Gut level justice.