Mar 31, 2011

Lawyers, Despair, and the Rule of Law: "Democratizing Political Murder"

I sometimes talk here and on campus about the tendency of the current generation of students to despair of justice in light of the human failings in our system. My word to them is that despair is rooted in the deadly sin of sloth-- the sin of "considering a worthwhile good"-- here, justice under the rule of law-- "not worth pursuing." In a country like ours, where the rule of law does for the most part reign (albeit imperfectly), Christians must pursue justice through faithful action and vigilant reform both from within the system and outside of it.

But what of those millions who live in places ruled not by law, but by raw power? What of lawyers who find themselves in systems where justice is never done? What happens when an entire nation lives in despair of justice?

In this amazing piece in the April New Yorker, David Grann masterfully unfolds a fascinating story of political corruption and the search for justice in Guatemala. At the heart of the story are two lawyers seeking justice. One, an upstanding citizen in a private law firm, is gunned down in the midst of his despair of finding the truth. The other, a world-renowned prosecutor, sifts throgh the "counterfeit realities" pitched by the contending political and criminal powers-- and by the murdered man himself-- to reveal the strange truth, and perhaps ultimately build a foundation for justice.

This fascinating study of justice, despair, and the law is beautfully told and filled with insights on the nature of corruption and the consequences-- for a man and for a country-- of despair.

I'd love to talk more after you read it . . . .

HT: Alan Jacobs on Twitter


  1. Mike, the New Yorker article will be bound, copied and on my desk to hand out to each of my clients with a beef with the American justice system. We must be vigilant to protect this most valuable inheritance.

  2. You are right, Lance. What a story, eh? Heart breaking on so many levels, and it does remind us of our duty of vigilance and the blessings of real liberty. Mike