Assurances to the public
about the integrity
of the legal system
Lawyers have a duty to watch the integrity of the system.
Regardless of anything I say on this site, that sounds political, my experiences with judges have all been good — I may disagree with rulings, but that does not mean anything was wrong with the rulings. Judges do not use politics — FACTS and LAW are the real keys.
Please try to comprehend the difference between what politicians do, and what judges do. Forgive me for this reminder, but you would not believe how people actually think of things.
When people do not not work closely within the system, as I do, then people sometimes develop unreasonable attitudes about the system, perhaps helped by some news anchors and TV networks. But we are here today to correct some bad notions.
Politicians create and retract laws. Judges decide cases and interpret laws. Politicians are motivated by ideology, and politics. Judges are motivated by facts and law.
The system works, and the judges seem honorable.
Lawyers are “officers of the court”, and we help make sure the system functions in the right way, even though we tend to be a–holes.
So our judges are being constantly watched by the hundreds of a–holes on their dockets. And if we see anything wrong, we have to take action.
If I ever saw a judge use politics, or any factors other than the FACTS and the LAW, then I would be obligated to make a report to a judicial ethics body — And I have never come close to feeling the need to make any such report.
How would You like to have Your underwear sniffed, all the time, by a–hole lawyers? Judges deal with that every day. They are under the microscope. We are all watching them — And they do their judicial jobs well.
To be clear, we are looking at their judging, not their non-judging behavior. The following is a bit crude, but I think it illustrates the point — We don’t care if judges are having affairs with their secretaries, but we care that they are honorable judges when the time comes for judging — Lawyers watch that closely, for your protection.
Judges really do decide cases based on the FACTS and the LAW, as they should. But some judges disagree about what the law, and prior court cases, are saying they must do, and that’s the rub.
Many things law-related are open to interpretation — That’s where my disagreements might be — But nothing improper is going on, just because bad decisions happen.
Anecdote related to Rush Limbaugh
My politics are far removed from Rush Limbaugh’s, as you might expect, but our legal worlds merge a bit.
The best trial judge I ever have tried a case in front of was — brace yourself — Stephen Limbaugh — Rush’s uncle, who is now retired. — He was obviously part of a right wing family, and yet developed a good reputation among left-wingers for his trial work.
The Rush Limbaugh family has a long long legal history in this part of Missouri. Rush’s grand pappy even wrote a well-regarded legal textbook that you can still see in the local law libraries.
And Rush’s cousin was on the Missouri Supreme Court, before getting a lifetime Federal Court appointment.
Think of politics and law like this — Politics merely “flavors” a judge’s mindset when deciding about uncertain legal issues, when those issues have been legitimately raised, under our complex rules. But otherwise, judges simply act like judges — and it is the FACTS and the LAW that motivate them.
And hard working people support the court system.
There is nothing suspicious about the system. Believe me, if I saw anything wrong, I would bitch all to hell about it, right now. — And I would report the offenders, and do everything I could to restore the integrity of the system — All lawyers would do the same thing — That is part of our job. We are looking out for you.
So, we navigate the system in the right way, and we take our chances with the judge, who is doing the best he can with the FACTS and the LAW that we give him.
Article written by | Tim Willoughby
Phil is a Missouri employment lawyer who is licensed to practice in Kansas and Missouri, and primarily takes cases in Saint Louis and Kansas City.
He is a member of the Missouri Bar Association and Kansas Bar Association.
Additionally, he has practiced in the United States Federal Courts of Missouri in St. Louis and Kansas City.
He has also practiced in the Kansas Federal District Court in Kansas City, Kansas.