(Hon. Judge Charles G. Goedert, 5/1/2011)
In 1961 Congress designated May 1 as Law Day to remind us of our commitment to the rule of law. This year, the chosen theme is, “The Legacy of John Adams, From Boston to Guantanamo.” Of course, John Adams, the first lawyer president, defended the British soldiers involved in the “Boston Massacre” in 1770 because of his belief in the rule of law, particularly when representing unpopular clients.
Similarly, this theme brings attention to the lawyers that have dedicated time to defending many accused “unlawful enemy combatants” detained at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a March 2010 open letter, 19 of these attorneys said their work upholds the rule of law in our country by their “zealous representation of unpopular clients”.
The rule of law loses meaning if we allow it to get trampled by our fears or by popular demand, whether in the case of an unpopular criminal defendant or an accused terrorist. Happy 50th Birthday Law Day, may it continue to thrive as a reminder to us all of the significance of the rule of law in our great nation.
Judge Charles G. Goedert
43rd District Court in Hazel Park