I went to see a colleague of mine plead at the police ethics committee yesterday, for the legal clinic that we both work at this semester. (although not yet lawyers, there are some exceptions where we can present arguments before administrative bodies)
it was great! I have also been to the immigration and refugee board, and it seemed very similar–less formal than a court, and the commissaire is a lot more approachable than a judge, with the main goal of earnestly discovering the truth rather than strict adherence to procedure. it is in these settings that justice is directly served to parties, who actively participate in proceedings themselves–and where a large majority of decision-making takes place, away from judges and lawyers.
the only thing that sucked was the social aspect. it involved a black youth (who seemed credible), and his mother actually came to vouch for his character. quite possibly another case of racial profiling by the police in ticketing a young black adolescent for no apparent reason. the burden that certain sectors of society face is totally unfair–the fact that since it was 11 am meant that this kid was not in school, and that his single mom was also not working, all in order to fight the wrong not made by them, but by a police officer (whom I did not see at the hearing, so presumably was working at the time).
I thought about whether that could have ever happened to me as a kid. never. ever ever. I don’t think I had even talked to cop, let alone been asked to identify myself randomly on the street as a teenager. how, then, do you keep from being angry as targeted individuals in this situation? as wronged communities? those days missed of school, of work, incrementally being pushed back… how can we not be angry against society for this injustice?