Salim Solaiman


This conversation is closed.

Is it MORAL for a smart LAWYER to twist the meaning of words of law to save a CONVICT about whom s/he is sure to be a convict ?

There are lot of discussion on MORALITY here in TED which is necessary and found to be very much thought provocating for the greater benefit of humankind for the establishment of justice fighting all injustice.

There are talks and discussions of morality of scientific development specially biological scinece. Discussions are there about the morality of politicians, media , interantional bodies, NGO etc etc. Was wondering what about the morality of our Judiciary System (not any particular country rather as a whole).

Hopefully Judiciary system is there to fight all injustice and establish the rules of justice (realtive though in respect to time , space , culture etc). Law makers (they are definitely not beyond debate) afters days. months or even years of debate comes up with new law or ammend old for the betterment of society.

What happens while implementing that LAW? Smart, intelligent lawyers all the time find out way to twist or bend the law to save their client , which in many cases they definitely know s/he was a real convict.

Yes from professional stand point those lawyers may be right to do that as they are commited to serve their client best of their capability honsetly.
But what about morality ?
How moral it is for them ?
What is the impact of their victory on the psyche of society as whole on the total justice system?

By doing so smart lawyers become famous and costly earns lot of money. Normal citizen can't afford them, rather a rich convict can , so law start speaking with money.

What are your thoughts about it ?
How can we prevent that implementation of law is not linked with money or power ?

(Well I agree FORGIVENESS is great virtue , but that forgiveness should only go once CONVICT agrees s/he did something wrong then only it can come in place, it's my view though)

Eager to hear your thoughts

Edit : Question edited replacing How with Is , courtesy Helen's post below :)

Closing Statement from Salim Solaiman

Thanks for all the contributors & their valued insight. Well it seemed though what I was proposing in premise as question of Morality , someother things it's more a matter of ethics. That being said it can be easily something is not right in our justice system.

Unanimous comment was that poor and people with out power can't really get justice from our current system. So we need to look for a change for the betterment.

Other point can be concluded that it's actually not a high priority cahllenge that our civilization facing , which is visible from the numbers of contributors contributed here.
Once it goes up the priority list , we defintely will have more discussio. Looking forward for that.
Good day for all. WIsh everyone can get justice from out current justice system.

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    Aug 9 2011: It is never RIGHT to compromise morality for professionalism, or anything else for that matter.
    • Aug 9 2011: Even if your morality says that it is acceptable to strap dynamite in your body and set it off in a public space, or if your morality says that it is OK to saturation bomb a civilian population?

      In those cases I will take ethics and professionalism, thank you very much.
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        Aug 9 2011: If you go into semantics, this discussion would turn endless.
        But let me add since you bring up a new side to the matter.
        Your morality may not necessarily comply with the universal ethics. In other words, your "right" can be wrong.
        (Though for majority, I think it's pretty clear that killing a human being is wrong.)
        • Sep 6 2011: Excellent point. For myself, I try not to avoid using the moral code of a Hitler and focus more on the code of a Ghandi.
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      Aug 9 2011: Kate My Friend

      Agreed fully with you.
      But the reality is just opposite. Lawyers at large seems are in competition to show how efficiently they can prove a real "convict" as an angel !!!

      More successful they are in doing that ,more money, more fame , more gliterring life style etc etc they enjoy.

      So what kind of situation we are in when morality and ethics are at stake around our justice system? (used your small j, liked your that post )

      Afraid am I whether performing the act "contempt court' by raising this issue !!!
    • Sep 6 2011: I believe Ironside was a police not a lawyer but Raymond Burr's other character Perry Mason was a defense lawyer who's clients where accused of crimes they did not commit so he had to look for the evidence to prove thier innocents. Ironside however as a police was looking for evidence to capture the criminals.

      The problem is with lawyers who know that thier clients are guilty, the code of ethics for a lawyer prevents the lawyer from providing the damaging evidence to the prosecutor and requires the lawyer to defend the criminal to the best of thier abilities and word manipulation while unethical is not illegal however actually lying about evidence is illegal.
      • Sep 6 2011: Raymond - the code of ethics for a lawyer is a varied as the countries where law is practiced. Defense lawyers, for example, are much more constrained in commonwealth system countries such as England as compared to the USA.
  • Aug 14 2011: Develop and ethical code and set up an enforcement agency (which will itself be held accountable through verifiable audits to another agency - perhaps the legislative branch) to enforce that code. A good way to do that is to set up professional accreditation and then remove that professional accreditation from anyone who doesn't follow the code.

    I would strongly suggest, given that America is one of the most corrupt countries in the world (as judged by the amount of money being stolen/diverted as opposed to the percentage of people stealing), that you find another model or at least understand the weaknesses inherent in the US system and design appropriately. Perhaps you could contact one of the professional legal societies (perhaps the brits ?) and see if they have advice or a guiding document to look at as a model.
  • Aug 9 2011: What we can do is to say, such people are worms which eats law.
  • Aug 8 2011: It is moral for a lawyer to defend a convicted based on truth and logic, if the lawyer is providing wrong information to defend him/her, this is immoral.

    In other word, defending a convicted for personal gain is immoral, for finding the truth is moral.

    However, we need smarter judges than smarter lawyers.
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      Aug 18 2011: That's a good point we need smarter judges. However even for smart judge s/he has to depend on evidence and argument of lawyer to give the verdict, s/he can't her/himself bring evidence, have to depend on the investigation team so they seems a bit crippled by the system.

      Other point is at least in my country observed smart law professionals don't aspire to be judge, after all money matters....
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    Sep 6 2011: Waiting to hear more thoughts before it get closed .
  • Aug 15 2011: On that we agree. Money = justice all too often. I just know that the US system is especially that way. There is not even a veneer of help for the poor or middle class.

    I can just tell you that unless the system exists to support and succor those who want to behave ethically, then the ethically challenged will rule the day.

    In the US, letting those who tortured walk free was a travesty and sent the message that torture is tolerated, no matter what the law says.
  • Aug 14 2011: If I understand your point I have a response that you may consider to be unrelated but which I believe is strongly related.

    Do not let the perfect become the enemy of the good. No system is perfect. Once people become involved, the weaknesses inherent in humanity, get layered over the best systems. The only solution is to put the best people you can in oversight and then also make sure that they are watched.

    The problems with all criminal lawyers is that they are required to do the best job that they can (provide the best defense) and sometimes there are lawyers who for reasons good or ill, will overstep their ethical bounds.

    This should not obviate the ethical code, but rather reinforce the need for it. As my mother used to say when I became perfectionistic, "don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

    Thanks for a stimulating conversation.
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      Aug 15 2011: Hi Jeffrey
      Thanks for your time and thoughts.
      Fully agree what your mom said about perfectionism. I am also not looking for a perfect system , it's really difficult in a system when there are so many different controllable as well as uncontrollable factors.

      I just don't feel the judiciary system we have (as whole on global perspective) even is not good. Well that's my feeling only , any one can have different opinion , but I need to understand why someone is seeing it as a good one.

      Being a person , who always strive to positivity of things , I am really frustrated with judiciary system..... as it's speaks mostly in fgavour of money /power.

      For poor people justice is a matter dream as they can not afford those flashy lawyers..
  • Aug 9 2011: Yes it is a semantic argument, but those are the funnest kinds, don't you think.

    Besides, in this case, it is an important distinction. The argument that without morality, one cannot expect good behavior has been used to justify discrimination against atheists (among others) for a really long time.

    Morality is, at it's core, tribal in origin while ethics grow out of a reasoned response to societal fluidity and function. Just my 2 cents.
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      Aug 13 2011: So it's a more ethical challenge our justice system having than the moral one, is that what you are saying?

      If so, how can we fix it it then you think ?
  • Aug 9 2011: Morality is relative and based on individual beliefs. I could be a follower of a religious nutcase who advocates blowing up innocents to make a point. If I followed those teaching, then I would be acting moral within the structure of my moral teachings. Ethics however are an agreed up general paradigm for framing and applying what is commonly thought of as moral behavior. Here is an article that attempts to explain the differences of these closely related subjects.

    As such, law is more interested in how to apply the basis of our laws, rather than worrying about why we have that moral basis.

    It seems a small distinction, but given that there are as many moral baselines as there are people, it seems a system of applying the common variables common to all moral codes seems more workable and practical.

    I hope this helps.
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      Aug 13 2011: Agree morality is relative to time, culture, community etc etc, but even than is not there a collective kind of morality in a particular time in a particular culture or community?

      A community or even with in a family , different members can have different belief systems (even if it is not different religion) does that mean that community or family don't have an agreed upon moral code?

      The debate here can also be about applicability of law (which as per your comment is the prime motive of judiciary system) if you want to keep morality aside. Because of those twist from lawyers or bringing unrelated topics in to the proceeding to confuse judges ,jurries ,media, public (not sure how much pressure media / public opinion puts on judgement) and then prove the CONVICT (about whom lawyer him/herself also sure) as an angel.

      By doing so is not law losing it's aplicability as well which as per your comment is the main concern of LAW?
  • Aug 8 2011: Morality has nothing to do with the law. Ethics on the other hand...
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      Aug 9 2011: Hi Jeffrey thanks for participating.
      It will be great if you can elaborate a bit what you said.
    • Sep 6 2011: A relationship exists between law and ethics. In some instances, law and ethics overlap and what is perceived as unethical is also illegal. In other situations, they do not overlap. In some cases, what is perceived as unethical is still legal, and in others, what is illegal is perceived as ethical. A behavior may be perceived as ethical to one person or group but might not be perceived as ethical by another. Further complicating this dichotomy of behavior, laws may have been legislated, effectively stating the government’s position, and presumably the majority opinion, on the behavior. As a result, in today’s diverse business environment, one must consider that law and ethics are not necessarily the same thing.

      Morality can influence the law in the sense that it can provide the reason for making whole groups of immoral actions illegal.
      Law can be a public expression of morality which codifies in a public way the basic principles of conduct which a society accepts. In that way it can guide the educators of the next generation by giving them a clear outline of the values society wants taught to its children

      Both morality and ethics can either be part of the law and not apart of the law.
      • Sep 6 2011: Raymond - Great points and a great addition to the conversation. I am not sure if it addressed Salims main question but it certainly illuminated the conversation.

        Salim - sorry I didn't get back to you earlier. I was visiting family in the mountains and didn't have access to phone, fax, internet, etc. I hope all is well.

        The law is what is legal / illegal and that is only what the government decides it will be. In some countries the rule of law is decided by democratic bodies. In some countries this process is fraught with corruption and cronyism. In other countries, such as the USA, it is decided by corporations.

        This should not be taken as an indictment of government or the rule of law but rather of corruption.
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    Aug 8 2011: I do not think there are degrees of morality. If it is moral or immoral is the question. There is no wiggle room
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      Aug 8 2011: Agreed what you told above.
      What's your thoughts then, those lawyers are Moral or Immoral ?
      If Immoral , how that immorality is impacting our society ?
      What need to be done if the impact is negative ?
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        Aug 9 2011: Salim...Sorry to take so long to answer. Not my stylebut I had to think this one over carefully to see that I don't answer you out of anger but out of reason because I get angry when I see some lawsuits especially the frivolous kind.
        The lawyer him/herself is neutral but his/her actions are not. We should be living by the Golden Rule and some of them are not. As you say, Salim, you can twist words to say what you want them to say even though "legalize language" is supposed to prevent that.
        How could burning your &&&& because you set a hot cup of coffee in your lap while driving be the responsibility of the restaurant where you bought it ? Ridiculous isn't it " That should never be allowed to come up in court.
        Now for the murder and abuse cases...We have seen the introduction of "cards". Play the racist card, distract from the real issue, use law verbiage in a way it was never intended, fall back on laws that should not be there in the first place, falling back on precedent which could be unjust, ad nauseam Lawyers should be honest and moral for it is they who propose laws that make immoral things LEGAL.
        I think that this should be stopped. Do you have any ideas as to how ?
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          Aug 13 2011: Hi Helen
          Sorry am I as well for delayed reply because was out of internet connectivity (not complete though).
          Yes those playful & funny lawsuits are making the justice system as whole to be funny , that what I feel.

          I don't the know the answer , but I think we can have separate courts where those playful kind of lawsuit can be held.

          For crime like murder , abuse should have separate court and judges lawyers has to pass through strict test of ethical & moral standard and to be on that court their ethical and moral practices should be under scrutiny time to time. The court also should have capability of offering higher monetary benefit to judges and lawyers working there as don't want to be more unrealistic ignoring money matter.

          May be it can be a way out , so that lawyers don't twist words, or play different cards (as you told) to save a CONVICT about whom they are sure about to be a convict.

          It might sound crazy idea , but that's what I can think about right now.....
        • Sep 6 2011: I thought making the immoral legal was what corporate law and MBA degrees were all about. Did I miss the memo.
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        Aug 13 2011: Salim.......I never thought of that but you know that is a good idea you have.......the problem how to implement that. If you hold their toes to the fire then maybe we can have real justice.
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          Aug 14 2011: Hi Helen
          Agree the challenge is implementaion.
          But that's the only idea came to mind once you asked.
          The most important thing is that our awareness about how our justice system is working and how we can make them responisble.