With St. Patrick’s Day around the bend here in Savannah, I can;t help but think of U2 and their song “Where the Streets Have No Name” for my second installment in this series.
Truthfully, the song has nothing to do with family law. There is not one mention of divorce, co-parenting, child support, or losing one’s truck, spouse, or dog in the process. But the song is about justice and equality and thus a song I enjoy on many levels.
In Belfast, Ireland, a person’s value was determined by the name of the street they live on. A person could tell your religion and how much money you make based on the name of the street your home is on. The song’s voice yearns for a place where they will not be judged based on the name of the street they hail from.
Over the generations, millions have flocked to America for the notion that they will be judged by their merits, not by the name of the street they live on, not on their religion, and not based on their income. Our justice system purports to adhere to these values, after all, Lady Justice is blindfolded. The ideal of American justice is that your case will be decided based on the merits, not on who your grandfather is or how much your lawyer donates to the judge’s election campaigns or which side of the tracks you call home.
Currently airing on television is the docudrama retelling the OJ Simpson murder case. The underlying themes in that case involved both race and class and the television show regularly touches on them. According to the show, much of the trial strategy, centered around the race of the jury pool, the lawyers involved and their respective roles, the individual law enforcement officers involved in the evidence gathering, and the defendant himself. Tied into those same considerations was O.J.’s incredible fame and wealth at the time which remained in the foreground thanks to constant news feeds outside his Brentwood mansion. Those aspects of race and class likely had as much to do with the outcome as did whether the glove fit or the timeline of the murders and Mr. Simpson’s alibi. To this day, we continue to see race and class affecting the decisions made in the justice system, recent grand jury decisions regarding police brutality cases being an obvious example.
Thankfully, I work with a number of judges on a daily basis who aspire to the ideals of the justice-is-blind mantra. I know when I walk into their courtroom that my clients and their cases will be decided upon their merits and not whether one of the parties is more politically or socially connected than the other. But the fight remains, the struggle real, to root out those that do not, cannot, or will not, abide by those same principles that the world knows us for. Justice requires that we continue to shine light where there is darkness. One day, the hope remains, we will separate ourselves from the old world views of how a person should be judged. One day we will feel the sunlight on our face, see the dust cloud disappear without a trace, and take shelter from the poison rain, where the streets have no name.