Would you defend Hitler?Without a doubt, my answer would be yes.When I was much younger, my mother would dissuade me from aspiring to be a lawyer. She cited the moral dilemma lawyers face when they defend nefarious criminals, whether serial murderers or sadistic rapists. Similarly, some people would cast aspersions on the morals of lawyers, believing that people who defend monsters must be ones themselves.In my opinion, everyone deserves fair legal representation. For every functioning society, the Rule of Law is often seen as a universal value that is fundamental.
The law holds people accountable for their crimes and ensures that justice is served. For every conviction, a person’s liberty and freedom is plausibly stripped from him. With such a grave responsibility, it is important to ensure that the Rule of Law is upheld because it protects and ensures our freedoms.
The right to fair trial upholds this principle, by ensuring that any conviction is justified. While an accused may have clearly violated the judicial system, in their capacity, defence lawyers help safeguard the due process of law by defending their clients and ensuring that no man is punished unless clearly proven guilty. Despite the abominable act that may have been committed, an accused still deserves someone to defend him in court. However, in the absence of a functioning rule of law, the desire for retribution is often unfulfilled, spurring people to take things into their own hands. My desire to read Law stems from my aspiration to uphold justice in society and work pro-bono for those without access to legal advice.
Additionally, one of the pivotal moments that sparked my interest in reading Law was the Moot Parliament programme. As part of this programme, I witnessed the Singapore legal system first-hand from experts and was tasked with introducing a new piece of legislation to deal with real-life issues faced in Singapore today. With the aid of a professional lawyer, my team crafted a public policy and bill in support of Euthanasia and was tasked to defend it during a mock debate. During the debate, I focused on the preservation of human dignity for patients, by enabling them to be relieved of their unbearable pain and lessen the immense financial burden on their family.
While I acknowledged the plausible abuse of certain social groups and slippery slope in legalising Euthanasia, I highlighted several preventive clauses implemented. The bill states patients must be experiencing pain to an unacceptable degree and two medical practitioners must certify the patient to be both terminally ill and medically sound, to prevent cases of fraud or forgery. Eventually, we won the debate and this experience fuelled my interest in parliamentary legislation as I was able to gain a deeper insight on the role of the legislation and how, when applied in practice is able to achieve the central objective in advancing general welfare.Also, a key takeaway I gained was that the law is often a reflection of social norms and values. While Euthanasia remains highly controversial in Singapore, several countries have legalised it due to wider acceptance from the general public. However, in my own research, I have discovered interesting cases questioning this belief. To illustrate, in the case of Annie Ee, an intellectually disabled waitress who was psychologically and physically abused to her death by two trusted companions, the general public was outraged and demanded a harsher sentence. While a harsher sentence would be a reflection of the public’s desire to see an ”appropriate” sentence mete out given the terrible circumstances of the crime, there exist a need to be firmly committed to upholding the integrity of the legal system.
This is done by ensuring that all cases are prosecuted fairly and decided strictly according to the law, with evidence presented without interference or influence from the public.Hence, with the above experience, I am greatly inspired to read Law.