Arthur Kirkland was a respected defense attorney in Baltimore; Henry T. Fleming was a District Court Judge in the same city; they disliked each other intensely. The judge customarily and arbitrarily ruled against the lawyer on shaky grounds. One day the judge was accused of brutally assaulting a young woman and incredibly asked Arthur to defend him in court. When the lawyer refused, Judge Fleming blackmailed him with information regarding a past client-confidentiality issue that would cause the disbarment of Mr. Kirkland. The judge, who admitted committing the crime to Arthur, figured that having someone who loathed him as his attorney would be beneficial during the proceedings.
On the day of trial, Arthur began to brilliantly prepare the defense of his client as he addressed the jury for the first time; then he unexpectedly turned to the prosecutor and yelled, “you are not going to get my client; I am going to get my client. The Honorable Henry T. Justice is a rapist and belongs in prison.” The courtroom erupted as Mr. Kirkland was ousted from the premises. This is the final scene of “…And Justice For All,” one of Al Pacino’s best in his illustrious career.
I worked for the U.S. Department of Justice for 32 years, and my early recollections were clouded by a system that was confused at best, complicit at worst, and which occasionally left me wondering who the “good guys” really were. In order to get the “bad guys” and bring them to “justice,” we had to pretend to be “bad guys” ourselves, leaving too little difference between the two. In time, we settled into the belief that there are only two kinds of people…the caught and the uncaught. Working with informants, who had to be “bad guys” to gain access to the cartels, who then we tried to “bleach” in front of the jury, became common in a rather free-wheeling system.
In the middle 70’s, I was assigned to the El Paso District Office, where we worked many international investigations. One such case involved the seizure of large amounts of heroin, cocaine and cash, and the arrest of several dozen traffickers from around the world, including two U.S. operatives. One of them pleaded guilty to three counts, each carrying a maximum of 15 years; however, the plea bargain stipulated that he would serve them concurrently, meaning he would only do 15 years. At sentencing, the federal judge asked him if he wished to make a statement, which he did. Unfortunately, the statement included berating the judge for allowing his accomplice to only get seven years for cooperating with us. The judge then took a break and came back shortly thereafter with the sentence; it was exactly the same as had agreed to, except for one caveat. The word concurrent was changed to consecutively. This meant that the defendant was now to serve 45 years while his buddy got away with seven. I remember walking down the courthouse steps much like Al Pacino in the movie.
Since accepting Christ Jesus as my Lord and Savior many years ago, I have been constantly reminded that Our God is a just and gracious God. Yet, it seems that the majority around me use the first descriptive word as the adjective and the second as the noun; thus He is just gracious! Many adhere to the lamb of God of the New Testament as a forgiving God, far removed from Joshua with the slaughter of multitudes and the capture of 31 kingdoms under direct orders from The Father. Coming from a convoluted human justice system, this “double standard” would make sense to a chap like me, until I factored in the Word of God. And after having The Bible “translated” to me by The Holy Spirit, I found that He is a God of Justice…always, and under every circumstance. And that gives me a sense of peace never experienced in the other justice system.
Ananias and Sapphira, as found in the Book of Acts, did not keep a financial promise in front of the early church and died on the spot. The Seals, The Trumpets, The Two Witnesses, The Dragon, The Beast, The Plagues, The Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath and The Fall of Babylon are found in the Book of Revelation and far surpass the suffering and destruction depicted in the Old Testament, which points to a just God throughout Scripture. The grace of a just God is so great that He allowed his son to take the punishment due me, and just as I revel in his mercy, I respect and appreciate his justice. We must remember that in a criminal trial here on earth, the judge may find that the defendant is guilty and decide to allow him to walk away free without punishment. I, on the other hand, am guilty before The Father and am not punished for my sins, but, they do not go unpunished; Jesus paid the price on my behalf; that is Heavenly justice.