Thanks to my years as an advocate for the poor (homeless families and low-income senior citizens), I refuse to refer to our legal system as a justice system. The people who get good results in court do so because they have one or more of the following: money, access to well-connected lawyers, and luck.
This lesson was hammered home to me in one of my first cases as a practicing attorney. It was a family law case involving child custody and child support, and I represented the mother. There was also a history of domestic violence. The father … well, I’ll keep my opinion to myself. We basically got what we wanted in the custody matter, but the dad lied through his teeth about his – and his live-in girlfriend’s – financial situation. Plus, he knew someone who worked in the courthouse, who was able to get him a lawyer who, unbeknownst to me at the time, was a dear old friend of the judge. So you can guess who won.
Now, this was a case I had taken pro bono, and the agency that placed the case with me offered to provide a mentor if I wanted to appeal the judge’s order, which I did. However, when I explained the facts to the mentor, he told me it was absolutely futile to appeal, because the appeals court would never reverse this particular judge, especially given who the opposing attorney was. After that conversation, I closed my office door, put my head in my hands, and cried like a baby.