It has always been a dream of mine to go to the courtroom with my aunt and see the inner workings of the legal system. It’s hard though because once everyone knows that I am the judges nephew they start to treat me differently. The police have two rules one for me and the other for everyone else, they yell at the locals asking them to move or stop talking, yet for me they all want me to take their seat next to my aunt and ask me if they can get me something to drink, I find it intolerable that such double standards exist.
Photos aren’t allowed so the courtroom can be described as such, at the back is a cage in which about eight prisoners are in holding, in full view of the general public in the center of the room is a large rectangular desk inhabited by lawyers both prosecution and defense, while my aunt is on the other side of the room in a an elaborately high and mighty desk. Two lawyers from either side read an oath from the constitution and my aunt wishes them good luck then the games begin.
One by one individuals are brought forward, their crimes noted some are bailed and their trial date set others are handed short sentences, of all the crimes the most significant seemed to be a man accused of stabbing another. One incident occurs when a lawyer claims the police have breached his clients rights, my aunt calls her aid to bring her a book outlining the law and finds it is true, she begins to confront the police asking them why we have a book of rules if they don’t use it, she then looks at me as if to say, look what I have to put up with.
Then something happens that shocks me they call a young girl who has escaped from a child correctional facility, she is dressed in a denim skirt and red top with bare feet, she is so shy she won’t look up at all. She says she just wants to see her parents that’s all, it’s clear something is wrong with her so she calls the girl into chambers. Her story is tragic, she is sixteen years old and was raped by her grandfather about two years ago, somehow one of the other judges had sentenced her to the correctional facility with no cause and she had spent two years in correction, she spoke of rampant abuse in the facility including beatings. I asked for confirmation of this from an officer and he claimed that such treatment was common.
My aunt eventually released her and ordered she be returned to her home. Later we spoke and she told me how many of these things just keep happening. It’s the poor in this country that are taken advantage of, the police harass them and they pay lawyers to protect them who also end up harassing them and misrepresenting them eventually landing them in jail.
The girl has large psychological trauma as well as not being allowed access to education, she has done nothing wrong and doesn’t deserve any of the things that have happened to her, she is the victim of indifference, inaction and no one cares for her, so I will. I don’t know how much I can help her but what I can do I will. I need to find out what she needs most urgently and how I can get it to her also I need a long term plan for her well being and to make sure she isn’t taken advantage of and whatever I provide her isn’t stolen by others. This is a difficult task I need to speak to those who know more about this than I do, and I need to enlist the help of my most powerful weapon, my friends. I know I can do this my father has done it before and saved a thirteen year old girl in much the same circumstances.
It’s only a tiny ripple when one thinks of the bigger scenario at play which is a social problem caused by failing institutions and a lack of moral courage on the part of all of us. But it is the kind of ripple that RFK would have liked to see us all make.