Anytime you hear comments from people including scholars and Christians in the condemnation of lawyers, one is left in some doubt as to whether law was not recognized, indeed, instituted by scripture. Often, you hear comments such as: lawyers are liars; lawyers turn white to black and black to white; lawyers do not know God; when lawyers die, they are buried face-downwards so they don’t see God; no lawyer can make heaven…
And many more comments like that.
This write-up, which is an examination of the principle of fair hearing through the lens of scripture, endeavours to show that virtually all reasonable modern laws have their roots in the Holy Scripture (The Bible). Therefore, the principle of fair hearing, its meaning, origin and application in the scripture and how the popular natural justice principle of fair hearing draws its strength from the scripture will be examined. It is intended to illustrate that although man may not tolerate lawyers (man never tolerated his fellow man either), God, Who put law in place and placed lawyers in charge of same, sure, will, in my view, in His natural character give lawyers a fair hearing on the last day. *feeling like a pastor now*
Man has been a problem to God from inception of creation. Man has never faithfully kept a simple instruction. Laws made by God have hardly ever been obeyed by man, much less laws made by fellow man, including those laws made by God’s instructions. But, lawyers have been in the practice of assisting God to manage man in man’s affairs on earth, ranging from issues as high as how to become a president of a country to issues as basic as how to get, keep and manage a wife and children.
If law meant nothing to God, would He take His time to arrange a heavenly assembly to enact the Ten Commandments which He handed over to Moses to present to the people of Israel with the instruction that same would govern His relationship with His people? Subject to no correction, there is nowhere in the scripture where it is stated that the law is bad. Christ said: ‘Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the Prophets; I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill.’
The Bible says: ‘And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one title of the law to fail.’
In fact, to further elucidate on this point, the trained lawyer servant himself, Paul says: ‘The law is good when used correctly.’ That is why there is no iota of doubt as to whether St. Paul, a lawyer, is in Heaven.
Hardly is there any principle of law in modern society without a foundation in the scripture, whether substantive law or procedural. Basically, this is a call to people to just give lawyers a fair hearing before condemning them.
The rule of fair hearing is encapsulated in two Latin maxims: audi alterem patem and nemo judex in causa sua. The first one commands that in a dispute, opportunity should be provided for the other party to be heard, and the second commands that one shall not be a judge in his own cause. Flowing from this principle, the Nigerian Constitution provides:
In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.
Now where does this principle derive its origin?
The principle of audi alterem patem was introduced in Gen. 3 when man fell, when he betrayed and sinned against God. Even though God knew that man had fallen, He still called Adam to ask him to state his defence. When Adam implicated his wife in his defence, God called the woman to also state her defence. It was after both of them were heard that He imposed sentences. He also imposed sentences on the tempter, Satan.
In Gen. 4, although God knew that Cain had killed his brother, Abel, yet, He called Cain to ask after Abel. God heard Cain, in his rather lame defence before He imposed sentence.
In the New Testament, during the ordeal of Jesus in the hands of the Jews, a devout man of the Jewish flock admonished his Jewish compatriots. Another good example of the application of the fair hearing principle is found among the early Christians.
The constitutional right to a counsel (which is also a vital aspect of the fair hearing principle) was long in practice among God’s people even before a former court system was introduced. The Bible tells us that when God called Moses to send him to Egypt, Moses pleaded for an advocate (another name for counsel), and God gave him Aaron.
The scripture also describe Jesus as an advocate. Jesus was an unpaid advocate to the woman caught in the act of adultery. When the woman was brought before Jesus (not as a judge this time because he was not one), as an advocate, he knew, humanly speaking, he was in a fix. If he said, ‘Release her’, the Pharisees would say he was disobeying the Law of Moses which in itself is blasphemy (punishable by death). If he said, ‘Kill her’, the Pharisees would ask what authority he had to condemn somebody to death. So, he used the best skill of a trial advocate which is cross-examination. Verse 6 says Jesus stooped and wrote on the floor. When He lifted his head, the cross-examination came like a thunderbolt: ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’ And the trial ended.
Also, under our law, when an accused is standing trial for a capital offence as in this woman’s case, he is entitled to mandatory legal representation just as Jesus offered the pro bono (free) legal services. It is safe to say that modern law equally borrowed this principle from this portion of scripture.
Finally, 1 John 1:9 says if we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and His word is not in us. This means that every one of us, whether you are a lawyer or a doctor or not educated at all, if you deny that you are a sinner, you are first and foremost a liar before your next offence of lying against God will be charged. But, with everybody basking in the euphoria of self piety and self righteousness and calling lawyers ‘liars’ and hell-bound, one wonders whether the allegation itself is not from hell.
In conclusion, that law is central to God’s plan for the earth (from where we prepare to go to heaven) is not in doubt. That lawyers who are the ones trained to interpret and apply the law are also central to God’s plan may not be in doubt, going from the above analysis. What is not particularly clear is whether every lawyer will make heaven just because law is central to heaven’s plan. One thing I am sure of is that no matter what the case may be, God will give lawyers fair hearing. It is submitted that after such fair hearing, and only after such hearing, can the destination of the lawyer, just like the destination of any person who dies, be determined. The first sets of people to get to heaven, in my view, are lawyers, IF and only IF lawyers assist God to manage man here on earth.
Written by Barrister B.Q Minainyo Esq
Published on www.mymindsnaps.com