The rights and liberties our ancestors fought and died for (independence, due process, and equal protection) are now, for the most part, given less thought by most Americans than who’s going to get a rose on “The Bachelor.” More people know the names of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” or YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram influencers than the names of their political representatives or our U.S. Supreme Court justices. It’s not OK, and I need to get this off my chest.
My name is Mitch Jackson and I’ve been a trial lawyer for three decades. Being a trial lawyer is something I’m proud of. Because of what I’m watching right now in this country, I feel the need to share the following. I hope you take a few minutes and read this entire post. I also hope you share it with people who need to be reminded about the things I discuss.
Trial lawyers protect those who do not have the ability or resources to defend themselves. They keep the peace and make sure everyone plays by the rules. Good, hardworking, and ethical trial lawyers are an indispensable part of a society that works every day to try and be equal, fair, and just. Unethical people, politicians, and big corporations that put profits over people are contributing to the downfall of our society, and I have a BIG problem with that.
A world where “alternative facts” start to become the norm is a problem for all of us. A lack of respect for our Constitution, Separation of Powers, independent judicial system, and the free press, by some elected local and national officials and political influencers, is not unacceptable. When a person or company, no matter how big or important, decides that the law doesn’t apply to what they’re doing, trial lawyers and the courts are there to hold that wrongdoer accountable.
What trial lawyers do matters. I genuinely believe that a good trial lawyer is the custodian of the community’s legal and ethical sense. We are not the enemy of business or progress. In fact, we’re just the opposite. We protect the rights and freedom of people and companies and make sure equal rights, justice, quality products, and safety always come first. We are the ally of business and the American dream.
The law and function of trial lawyers have changed over time. And that’s a good thing. Since the beginning of civilization, a common element of all people and societies is change. Things are constantly moving, adjusting and changing. Legal issues change and how trial lawyers think, act, and argue the facts and law is no different. We need to continue to improve and revamp ourselves based upon prior conduct and the present and future needs of society. As the world changes, so do we.
Revamping or renovating something special like the American justice system is the preferred approach. It’s not always easy, but it is still necessary. In fact, some call this the evolution of civilized society– the cycle of life. Even the Statute of liberty wore out after a hundred years. It needed to be refurbished — no big deal.
Along the same lines and over two centuries ago, a lawyer, Thomas Jefferson, helped pen the Declaration of Independence. Today it stands strong. It continues to be a landmark- a human progress of ideas, ideals, and values.
The Declaration of Independence and, for that matter, our Constitution, are living, breathing, and changing documents. They are monuments much older than the Statue of Liberty and erected on paper rather than a cement foundation. Documents etched indelibly in the minds and free men and women wherever they live in this country.
Most people on this planet believe that truth, equality, and justice are primary concerns. I’m sorry to say that in reality, this isn’t the case. People living in third world countries controlled by dictatorships know this all too well. Many Americans don’t truly appreciate the rights and liberties they experience daily. They take them for granted. And that’s too bad.
Tragically, it seems to me that many Americans have become passive when it comes to protecting their liberty and justice. Based upon what I’m seeing and hearing almost on a daily basis, the average American just doesn’t’ believe it is his, her or their duty to preserve the liberties that all of us enjoy.
Politicians and big corporations that put profits over people are taking advantage of this lack of effort. Many fabricate false and misleading information designed to take away or dilute your rights. When it comes to your right to a jury trial, they make it harder for people to get to court and instead promote mandatory arbitration and random caps on money damages.
The average consumer does not appreciate the fact that these entities are focused on placing their interest before your own. Their goal is cut costs, increase profits and shareholder wealth. Taking away your right to jury trial through political lobbying and forced arbitration helps them, not you. Creating immunities through new legislation motivated by political donations and elections strips consumers of the right to control their own society.
For some reason, lawyer bashing has become a peculiar and popular sport. Watching the House and Senate hearings shows the good and bad of advocacy. But making fun of a group of professionals who have given the oath to protect your rights and liberties, in exchange for a quick laugh by uninformed consumers, is merely adding the wrong ingredient to society’s need for more fairness and justice. It’s not OK. In the end, the joke will be on the consumer who will wake up someday without laws protecting their fundamental rights and liberties.
Trial lawyers are the primary proponents of equality and when it comes to due process, they are the last line of defense. I still believe the legal profession is an honored profession. Becoming a trial lawyer means becoming a member of a profession that cares about people and our country. Going about being a trial lawyer, the right way, means helping people honestly, effectively, and with sensitivity. It means righting wrongs and protecting others.
Most good trial lawyers regard themselves as being charged with the public trust. They’re committed to strengthening our system of law, equality, and justice. I know I do.
To those critics who decry that in their opinion, too many people are seeking redress for wrongs through our courts, I suggest they have it all wrong. Did you know that of all the legal filings in our civil courts, less than 4% of those cases involve people suing other people for harm caused by wrongful conduct? The fact of the matter is that a majority of all civil filings involve one large company suing another large company.
Why does big business believe it is OK for them to use our legal system and not you? Why is it that politicians use the court system to protect their rights but tell you that it’s not OK for you to do the same?
My fellow trial lawyers and I have a big problem with this. You should too.
The fact of the matter is that the only protector of your rights against government and big corporations is the trial lawyer. Using the power of our American legal and jury system, trial lawyers are the only people trained and able to protect your rights. The courthouse is the place that allows everyone, including you, to stand tall and assert your constitutional rights.
Trial lawyers are charged with the task of protecting people from the greedy and providing legal services for the poor. Because of the efforts of trial lawyers, society is protected from governmental abuse and misguided criminal prosecution. No matter how powerful, wrongdoers are held accountable and justice is found.
Despite mandatory arbitration and artificial damage caps, with a good trial lawyer, consumers can still find justice and hold wrongdoing people and companies responsible for their illegal and harmful conduct. The same should apply to hold misguided and even corrupt politicians accountable. But it’s not easy.
Look around the world. Countries and regions that don’t share a legal system built around due process and equal protection are in constant chaos — dictatorships, greed and wealth control economies, the quality of life, and who gets prosecuted criminally. Rights and property are taken from people without any due process or other system of checks and balances. Young girls are taken from villages by criminals and sold for $12 as sex slaves. In other cases, innocent people are found “guilty” of a crime and executed with the wink of an eye. Other victims are tossed from the top of buildings because of their sexual orientation. Political favors are made without consequences and misinformation is shared with people in the form of news.
If corporate American, big insurance, and most politicians had their way, they’d like to call all the shots and tell you what you can and can’t do. For the life of me, I just can’t understand why citizens put up with their “I’m better and know more than you” attitude. It’s not OK. With your encouragement and support, hardworking trial lawyers will never let this happen.
Trial lawyers know that there is no better legal system in the world than what we have in the United States of American. We know that in both the civil and criminal courts, the right to trial by jury is the one equalizer that allows a single person to hold a big corporation, politician, or government accountable. One voice, with the help of a good trial lawyer, can stop misguided corporations from selling dangerous products to innocent consumers. One voice can keep an innocent defendant from going to jail and, one voice can hold a wrongdoer responsible for his or her conduct.
Politicians who want to limit your access to the courts, witnesses, facts, and documents have it all backward. Think about this for a moment. What do they want? Vengeance in the streets? Money? Power? Do politicians or big corporations really know what’s best for you? Do they make decisions with your best interest in mind? As I mentioned above, why is it OK for them to use our court system and not you?
From the very beginning of humanity, we’ve been told that justice is the greatest concern of all the people on earth. When legal rights and due process are taken away from the people, societies self-destruct and disappear.
Engineers build new buildings that have fallen down and rebuild new bridges that have washed out. Planes that fall and ships that sink are redesigned and made better than they originally were. As I mentioned above, even the steel of our sacred Statute of Liberty wore out in 100 years.
During this same time, trial lawyers, without using stone, steel, or rock, built a system with a foundation of equality, truth, and justice. Enduring paper monuments like the U.S. Constitution promote conversation and create and protect inspiration, truth, and justice.
When we think about truth, justice, and the law, what are we talking about? Trial lawyers will tell you we’re talking about an original, reasonable and accepted way for people to live together and settle their disputes without resorting to force. Today, almost everywhere we look around the world, we see wars and other atrocities caused in large part by the absence of laws and due process.
Because of trial lawyers and the jury trial system, here in the United States, we have a government of laws and not men. Trial lawyers create new laws in court through jury verdicts, without help, and in many cases, despite the roadblocks placed by the state and federal legislatures and congress. Juries have power and help fix the harm every single day across our country.
We have an independent free press. We have police who are required by law to follow due process. We have juries resolving conflicts. This just isn’t the case in many other places around the world.
In fact, and I’m talking about over the past 70 years or so, trial lawyers have created new laws through court cases that have made our country a better place. Most people are not aware that the laws I mention below were not initially created by legislatures or politicians.
When the government refused to take action, trial lawyers tried cases resulting in segregation being stopped in schools. Trial lawyers tried cases protecting your right to vote and resulting in unsafe products being banned from the marketplace. Trial lawyers have established laws protecting the senior citizens and the disabled and preserving your right to education. Because of trial lawyers, discrimination is illegal. Also, because of trial lawyers, you have the right to legal counsel in criminal cases and are protected by the Miranda rule. Police brutality is no longer an accepted result of an interrogation or arrest.
I think that in our lifetime, the most significant change trial lawyers have helped make in court is that of equality. Equality between the races and sexes. Equality between the rich and poor. And equality between the haves and have nots. Politicians and money continuously seem to try to push the issue and bend the law, but trial lawyers will always be here to test the new laws with new facts and cases. It’s a process and, in my opinion, the best legal process in the world.
Yes, we still have a long way to go, but despite all the lawyer jokes and bad judicial SCOTUS appointments (yes, elections have consequences), good trial lawyers will make sure equality and justice happens in the long-term.
Political and big corporate media brainwash too many of the uninformed in today’s fast-paced world. For most people, if they hear something often enough, they start to believe that it’s true. The same dynamic happens on social media.
It’s sad when you think about it. Not only for those who allow, on a daily basis, for their rights to be stripped from them one at a time, but also sad for those who have become comfortable being sheep led around by a rope pulled by big government, corporate America and misleading “news” outlets.
Justice Learned Hand long ago said, “Lawyers should have but one commandment. Thou shall not ration justice.” The end result is that the public is better protected and served. I don’t believe most consumers appreciate this approach to government, law and life. Instead, they allow the rights of big corporations and politicians to take priority over the rights of individuals.
It’s not OK for politicians and big corporations to take justice away from citizens. Whether you realize it or not, that’s what is happening in today’s world and on a daily basis.
The fact of the matter is that the trial lawyer is here to protect your rights, not take them away. The trial lawyer is your advocate and friend, not your enemy.
The trial lawyer and American legal system give people who may not otherwise have a voice, the power to hold others, including wrongdoers, accountable for their improper and illegal actions. Despite all the propaganda continuously feed to Americans through advertising, marketing, and political rhetoric, the fact of the matter is that having a trial lawyer on your side is a good thing. It’s good for you and it’s good for our society.
I’m proud to be a trial lawyer and have the opportunity to protect the legal rights of people just like you. I’m also grateful to be an American citizen with the right to vote. I hope you are too.