Friday, March 7, 2008

An Innocent Man Pays for a 26-Year Silence

"You've been telling half truths.One who tells lies hides the truth but when telling half truths,you've forgotten where you've put it."- Mr. Dryden, in Lawrence of Arabia

Evey now and then a stoy like this tugs at our notions of human justice. Here are the questions that come to mind at first shot:

1. Lawyers need to keep their clients' information confidential. Are there any exceptions to this? What if it threatens the survival or sovereignty of the nation? What about an outright confession of crime, such as in this case, when silence would mean that an innocent man will be punished in the perpetrator's stead?

2. Isn't it an obstruction of justice to keep knowledge of a crime secret? Doesn't that conflict with the lawyers' bond?

3. If these lawyers had come forward with this information, what would have happened? They may have lost their jobs and their licenses to practice law. But wouldn't it have been admitted in court as evidence?

4. If such a disclosure on the lawyers' part would have been admitted in court as evidence, shouldn't we question ourselves as to what we need law schools for? Are we (the same question could be asked medical schools) fostering simply careers by establishing law schools? Or aren't we attempting to uphold the law? Isn't the law at least partly sacred? From the Christian vantage point, isn't the law a poor version (but a version nevertheless) of God's law?

From a purely humanistic point of view, that last question doesn't hold any meaning. An innocent man was punished, the criminal went free, nothing more was said or done. The criminal completed a full life and handed in his dinner pail. The unfairly accused gets a re-trial after 26 years of his life have been wasted behind bars. The rest of the world went about their normal lives. Not a blip in the course of history. By and large the humanistic paradise didn't move much, did it? From a Christian's point of view this is injustice which will be surely answered with the perfect justice and the perfect mercy of God's judgment. This is an affront to God's original plan for humanity just as every sin has been before this.

If anything at all it points out to us the frailty of human justice and the still small voice inside of us seeking true justice. The Cross tells us that such justice is to be established first in ourselves. The judgment must indeed be meted out to each of us and the Cross cleanse us in fulfilment of that judgment and God's mercy.

Alton Logan paid for not just Andrew Wilson, the perpetrator, but also the lawyers whose silence sealed his fate, not to mention the loved ones of the accused whose desire for justice consumed him. Except in human terms he was unable to save any of their souls. That is possible only by the vicarious death and resurection of the One who being in the form of God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped to himself, btu made himself of no reputation, was found in fashion as a man and took our sins on his ravaged body on the Cross. Death could not keep him down and his life is our only hope.

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