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May 26, 2016

Memorial Day

by: Jodi Westbrook Flowers

This weekend we honor and celebrate the service and sacrifice of American patriots. As our firm’s co-founder Ronald L. Motley (1944-2013) often said “our clients are patriots first, and litigants second.” Ron’s favorite song along with “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was “America the Beautiful.” We keep these memories in our thoughts today, as we prepare to honor the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives to defend our basic freedoms and civil liberties this Memorial Day. 

As American citizens, there are certain truths for which we all stand, certain values to which we’ve pledged our allegiance, and certain liberties our soldiers fought and died in order to protect. Make no mistake, the concept of justice is at the heart of these values. Our Constitution begins “We the People, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice…” The founders knew justice was crucial to civil society, and the Constitution through the Bill of Rights goes on to guarantee the right to jury trial as a basic tenet of establishing that justice. 

The men and women of our military take an oath to uphold the Constitution. The civil justice system as established by the Constitution is often the only defense against powerful interests that may act against our civil (and human) rights. Without the rule of law and the right to a jury trial, the truth would never have come out in so many instances. Asbestos, tobacco, medical devices, corporate fraud, and the sponsorship of terrorism come immediately to mind. And as Justice Louis Brandeis taught us “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants…” This is never more true that when seeking justice and exercising the right to a jury trial.

For so many reasons, the right to trial by jury must be protected. That is particularly true when powerful interests seek to keep matters quiet. And make no mistake, there are those who would strip us of the right to trial by jury to protect their financial interests if given the chance. The Chamber of Commerce works to do just that, along with so many other “special interest” groups.

Faith and trust in government hinge upon transparency and, equally so, balance. The framers of the U.S. Constitution understood that much. It’s why they thought it best to build our nation on the premise of three separate but equal branches of government. No one branch is in itself stronger than the all. Our civil justice system – however imperfect – is the strongest and most transparent in the world. In America, our citizens can go toe-to-toe with large corporations or even corrupt regimes.  This is one of the bedrock principles upon which our nation was founded, and one for which our soldiers have repeatedly sacrificed.

A plea for justice is at its core a plea for the truth. Sadly, for any of those who have been deprived of their day in court, the truth can be denied. We fight on behalf of the sickened, the defrauded, the terrorized, and the cheated. 

Today we thank not only our soldiers, but also our clients, from all walks of life and all corners of the world, who have the courage to seek truth and justice through civil litigation.   

We thank our patriots, and we thank our litigants, for their pursuit of liberty and justice, often against seemingly insurmountable odds. Without your courage, the truth would remain in the dark, and all of our rights could be curtailed.