Post by: Esther Neds
For the past six weeks I have had the privilege of working in the Criminal Appeals Division of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. My job as a clerk in the office was to write appellate briefs, reviewed by my boss and then submitted to the court. I enjoyed the chance to improve my research and writing skills and to be able to learn about a variety of areas of criminal law I had not had the chance to learn yet.
The process of writing the appellate briefs for the State of Alabama reinforced to me the importance of our adversarial justice system. When I would start a new case, I would be handed the appellant’s brief and the full record from the lower court. I always started by reading the appellant’s brief to see what issues were being raised. Many of the issues I dealt with this summer I had not learned about yet and so I did not know the law. Even the issues I did recognize from my law school classes, I was not familiar with the specific Alabama law. Because of my lack of knowledge, many times after reading the appellant’s brief, it would be pretty convincing and make me wonder what kind of arguments I could make in response. However, after actually reading the whole record and researching the law, many times I realized that the appellant’s argument was not as strong as I had first thought.
Proverbs 18:17 says “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” (ESV) This summer I have really appreciated the importance of looking at both sides to an issue to be able to get the full picture. I think the rule of law is essential and one way to ensure the law is being fairly and accurately interpreted and presented is to have an adversarial system.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Intern. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.