Friday, June 22, 2007

And Justice for All

The United States has a Department of Justice to defend legal interests and ensure equal access to this justice for all of us.

The Attorney General was originally a part-time position established in 1789 to try suits in the Supreme Court and advise the President on matters of law. There was too much work, so assistants were hired and private lawyers were retained.

After the Civil War resulted in an unmanageable amount of litigation, Congress established the Department of Justice. I found two references that say today is the anniversary, but the DOJ documents the establishment as July 1, 1870.
Mission Statement
To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.
It sounds nice, doesn't it? ". . .fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans." But is it so? Even with the best of intentions, mistakes are made.

The Innocence Project
is dedicated to exonerating the wrongly convicted through DNA testing. Twenty-eight states currently have no compensation programs for those proven innocent after being imprisoned for years. Since 1989, there have been 204 DNA exonerations -- an average of 12 years in prison, some on death row.

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