On the outside looking in at “the perspective of honest lawyers”

the honesty of the system in which I work every day is life or death to me. Just as much as my house is. Something that undermines that is just as life-or-death to me as a wind that blows your house away. I can’t live, function, and work in a corrupt legal system…I think there are parts of this you aren’t getting because you don’t understand the perspective of honest lawyers.

Honest and written from the heart – albeit not to me – these comments stand without reference in tribute. USA v Scruggs and the Katrina insurance cases opened a window into the legal system. What those outside sometimes see when looking in has created concern about the integrity of the system as well as the judicial system, and, at times, given rise to questions about the conduct of lawyers relative to these cases.

An honest lawyer is defined by other lawyers as one who follows the rules – and, by extension, a properly functioning judicial system would do likewise. Consequently, once USA v Scruggs was filed, the perspective of honest lawyers was outrage at the idea of another lawyer earwigging or attempting to bribe a judge and insistence the system show no mercy.

In turn, this perspective was reflected in commentary and comments on weblogs, media coverage, calls for reform of the legal and judicial system, and examination of the cases identified with Scruggs – asbestos, tobacco, and Katrina insurance claims are examples that come to mind.

I understand that perspective, I just don’t share it when there is no benefit of doubt or fidelity to innocent until proven guilty. The laws of man are not set in stone. While not made to be broken, laws are to be interpreted and even changed when needed or desired.

With those thoughts in mind – and a reminder, no doubt needless at this point, that I’m not a lawyer – an honest lawyer from my perspective must also be an honest person.

Honesty is not difficult to define, and most people have a fairly consistent definition of honesty. Honesty means to be free from deceit and fraud, to be open and above board in your transactions, and to be fair and just in how you treat others.

To the whatever extent honest lawyers have not been honest people – fair and just in their treatment of all involved in USA v Scruggs and the Katrina insurance cases – they have corrupted the legal system as much, if not more, than those they blame.


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