Rule of Law or Money

judiciary“First come first served” is the motto for those advocating human rights and freedom. There should be no prejudice. Whoever is at the head of a queue gets served first. Race, money, religion and societal ranks should not in anyway subvert this fundamental “rule of law”. This sounds good. The intent of this rule appears at first glance to be fair and just. Just before the launch of a new iPhone gadget, people queued for days to get their hands at an iDiot gadget. The same goes for “Black Friday”, buying a cinema ticket, getting a cab and so on. The concept works most times and helps maintain law and order. This principle is referred to as the “cab rank rule”.

Wikipedia states that “in English law (and other countries which adopt the rule), the cab-rank rule is the obligation of a barrister to accept any work in a field in which he professes himself competent to practise, at a court at which he normally appears, and at his usual rates. The rule derives its name from the tradition by which a Hackney carriage driver at the head of a queue of taxicabs is supposed to take the first passenger requesting a ride.”

But how about emergencies when someone needs to jump queue? The definition of an “emergency” is  subject to interpretation and becomes muddy. How does this rule apply in the face of advocates of laissez faire capitalism (aka the western ideology) where money speaks louder than anything else.  He who bids the highest should have the first bite. That sounds fair as well if you believe in absolute capitalism. What would happen to political and religious protocols where those at the top of the peck have better treatment? The expectation of “fairness” starts to get cloudy and the “first come first served” idealism starts breaking down.

In the fallout of the Lindt Cafe siege which killed two innocent persons, the judiciary came under attack for granting bail to the gunman Monis who had a long list of criminal records. ABC News reported:

The New South Wales Bar Association has expressed concern that members of the judiciary have received death threats in the wake of this week’s siege in Sydney. ….. The magistrate who released Monis and lawyers who previously represented him have been subjected to personal attacks. ….. As to the lawyers, it’s very important to remember that lawyers are just doing their job. ….. Barristers in particular have an ethical obligation to appear for whoever seeks their services within their expertise. That’s known as the cab rank rule.

The legal system mandates that lawyers have the responsibility to represent anyone, regardless of the “guilt” of an accused. Herein lies the conundrum – should a lawyer represent a client even though all the evidence is stacked against him? For that matter, even if the client admits guilt to his lawyer, his lawyer cannot go against the “interest” his client. Law, per se, is amoral. It does not judge morality. Greedy lawyers have no moral obligations to do what is morally right.  Even if he knows that his client is culpable based on evidence or his client’s own admission, he can exercise his professional prowess to get his client off the hook in exchange for money (sometimes lots of it). This is perfectly legal and in accordance to “can rank rule”. Too often, money can buy expert legal counsel with the consequence of miscarriage of justice.

The real question pertains to the relevance of the “cab rank rule”. Is this archaic rule still of any use to protect innocence in the world where “money rules”. It is unquestionable that “money rule” is far more potent than the “cab rank rule”. This renders the latter rule obsolete and totally irrelevant in the context of how it is administered as an instrument of justice.

Those calling for the death of the magistrate and the legal representative of Monis in the Lindt Cafe incident are obviously wrong to utter those threats. On the other hand, it is clear that there is a serious flaw in the judicial system and processes. New South Wales Bar Association president Jane Needham is right to comment that “The jobs of the judiciary are very difficult, they’re very complex and magistrates in particular deal with many cases which come before them and they have to make their decisions on the basis of what is before them at the time and the operation of the law.”

In short, man falls short of being able to administer justice. Unless God rules, there will never be a solution as long as man rules. Man’s heart is deceitful. A Godless nation can never administer justice.

1 Samuel 8:5
And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.


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