14 February 2019

Kenya: To End Graft, Should We Kill All Lawyers?

opinion

Whenever the wind blows, the rear of the chicken is exposed. The wind has, indeed, blown and the dirty bottom of the dragon of corruption has been exposed.

And we have seen spirited attempts by the President to fight graft. However, fingers and toes have been pointed at lawyers for failing in the war against corruption.

They have been accused of abetting corrupt deals and adding fuel to the cooking pot of corruption by defending the corrupt in court.

The first thing we do, let us kill all lawyers. Calm down, that is a phrase used by the character Dick the Butcher in Shakespeare's Henry the Sixth, after Jack Cade, a pretender to the throne, rebelled against the King and wanted to bring change to the regime.

GATEKEEPERS

He termed it transformation. There would no longer be money since he would feed all the people and apparel them in one livery that they may agree like brothers -- and worship him as their lord.

But Dick advised his leader that, for the lofty aspirations to succeed, they had to first kill all lawyers.

Not because lawyers were corrupt or bad, as is popularly misapplied of this phrase, but they could not countenance such evil without questioning it.

Jack only needed the people as a cover-up as he plundered public resources!

Lawyers -- practitioners and judicial officers included -- are the gatekeepers of public morals and guardians of public coffers against embezzlement.

So, are the corrupt looking over their shoulder before stealing anything for fear of being spotted by a lawyer?

FAIR CRITICISM

Would Kenya be heavenly if there were no lawyers? Would Kenyans be singing the national anthem thrice a day? I do not think so.

While I must acknowledge that there are a few rotten apples within the profession -- as with all other entities -- we should not throw blanket condemnation at the legal profession.

When a child relieves itself in the washbasin, you do not throw away the child with the soiled bath water.

There are decent human beings who work hard just like the rest of Kenyans to make ends meet but their only 'crime' is that they are lawyers.

But unless the right to legal representation is scrapped from the law, lawyers will continue to represent any client, public opinion notwithstanding.

Actually, in murder cases the accused must be afforded a lawyer, even at the State's expense, or the trial is rendered a nullity after a conviction.

BAIL

When a criminal suspect is arraigned and the prosecution is not ready to proceed on day one, the court will adjourn the matter, sometimes for more investigation. And any adverse order will, definitely, be challenged by the defence.

Unless the constitutional provision that an accused is "innocent until proven guilty" is flipped, as seems to be the public opinion, bail and bonds will continue to be issued to suspects.

Lenient or otherwise, bail is only supposed to secure the suspect's court attendance.

Now, lawyers who are corrupt, I am not holding your brief. You should be true to the oath you took upon your admission to the Bar.

Do not divorce the rule of law for quick and easy gratification. But if you're charging legal fees, please do so without battling an eyelid. If you can also offer pro bono and pro deo services, don't shy away.

The reason flies are buried with corpses is that they have no one to advise them. Let the voters elect good leaders who will make more effective and logical laws.

Mr Gor is a lawyer in Nairobi. [email protected]

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