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March 2015

Legal Ethics
THE JUDGE
A Reaction Paper

Platitudes are now perceived, often dismissed, as dysfunctional vocabulary tapestries


sewn from threads of aged precepts which, just like any acclaimed antique, although of great
cultural value, neither retain any practical use nor operative application. I disagree.
One such phrase that appears to exemplify a lack of original thought, and yet abounds in
wisdom, is this truism - You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of
your choice.
This aphorism is germane to the core human complexes enshrined in the movie The
Judge, where the main protagonist, Hank Palmer, a successful yet an unethical defense attorney,
upon the death of his mother, was compelled to return home and deal with his estranged family.
Beginning with Hanks arrival on his shunned hometown, a series of atrocious
circumstances immediately stormed in on him. And one of the most arduous tasks he needed to
deal with was his father, Judge Joseph Palmer, a principled moralist and the principal suspect in a
hit and run incident that happened on the night when Hanks mother was buried. Hank, on the
basis of his brothers request and personal conviction, chose to defend his father in his murder
trial despite the friction between them brought upon by their unmistakably rough unsettled
issues.
The main Legal and Ethical issue that struck me the most was Judge Joseph Palmers
resolve to uphold the absolute truth, regarding the supervening events after his wifes burial,
even with the imminent threat of his own incarceration. From an idealistic point of view, this is
probably the best ethical way to go, but pragmatically speaking and in the interest of selfpreservation, it is evidently not the best logical solution. Judge Joseph Palmer spent the better
portion of his life in the sphere of active legal practice, with decades of experience under his belt,
it is quite astonishing how he neither mustered any courage to even try to circumvent the law nor
demonstrated any hint of wanting to find a legal loophole where he can squeeze in and escape to
freedom.
Even with the belligerent earnestness and aggressive petition of Attorney Hank Palmer, as
a counsel and son, for Judge Joseph Palmer to abstain in taking himself to the stand and bring out
into open material information that will imperil his position, failed.
Such is the willpower of The Judge to maintain fairness, stand by justice, champion what
is right and hold on to nothing but the TRUTH.
Such is the grit of The Judge to adhere to his morals even how imprudent and unpopular
it may appear to this era of self-indulgence, self-centeredness and self-worship.
Such is the courage of The Judge to face danger in the face, to personify the power of
vindication through justice, fairness, equality and TRUTH.
Such is the pursuit for a lasting positive legacy of The Judge that he chose, rather than, by
means of deceit, living free and fancily, to be imprisoned as a consequence of truthfulness and
veracity.