The role of the administration of justice is a role that originates from God. It is a divine responsibility that is left to some chosen people in the society and as such its enforcement should be an instrument to achieve such justice, as is given by God.
This cannot however, be achieved without the help of faithful people who can be entrusted with this role. This includes not only the judges but also the lawyers who are seen as money oriented professionals. This stands true to a great extent, for the institution has been frequently pervaded by selfish persons. However, as bad as this situation might be, Christians have a duty to contribute to the various institutions of the law in order to make the what they ought to be.
God’s interest in justice is clearly seen in Deuteronomy 1:16-17 where Moses says to the judges, “Hear the disputes of your brothers and judge fairly, whether the case is between Israelites not between one of them and an alien. Do not show partiality in judging: hear them, both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God.”
Most African countries use what is known as adversarial system, a system of litigation which calls for the two parties to compete, with judges sitting as umpires. The judge therefore depends on the two counsels of both parties if he is to administer justice between the two parties. If both turn out to be mistrustful, then justice will not be achieved for the judge will reply, in giving his judgement, on the line that was most convincing. It calls for the two counsels to be people who are guided by the grace of God They should be interested more in seeing that justice is administered more in seeing that justice is administered and that the truth helps in reaching a compromise.
The role of the lawyer has become even more important when it comes to dealing with clients especially in criminal matters. The Christian lawyer becomes more interested in seeing that justice is done for his client than the money that is paid for that service. Where truth has it that the client cannot win the case, the Christian lawyer’s greatest interest will be to see that justice is done. This will be done not with the interest of the client, but with that of truth.
In criminal matters the main concern is to get fair treatment of the persons convicted. He will be ready to take personal interest I the person, visiting him in prison and seeing to it that the criminal eventually reforms. He will show them the right way and get them to accept God, achieving what most probation officers have failed to achieve.
The institution of lawyers therefore requires God-fearing people. Christians should take up the challenge of joining the profession in greater numbers. They would strive to convert those who are already there into the ways of God. The role of an advocate is in essence, divine, for it cannot be done to perfection without total dedication and the love of God in one’s heart.
There are many people requiring legal representation which is not available due to lack of funds. There are hardly any lawyers who are willing to frequently provide such services free. It will take people with the love of God to provide such, to see the giving of such services as the furthering of God’s mission on earth.
The role of the Christian lawyer is even more important when we look at the bench, that is the magistrates and the judges. God gives them his word in Deuteronomy 16:18-19 – “Do not pervert justice, or show partiality. Do not accept bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
The above words tell us that the code of professional ethics will not achieve anything where there is no fear of the Lord. Without it, people entrusted with such roles will be liable to such influences as bribes.
When sentencing people, judges should be guided by the love of God to criminals; we should not hate them. Punishment given should be merely to show the law’s dislike for non-observance. But who is to tell the judges this and serve as an example to them? Here the Christian comes in as a lawyer. He has divine duty to join in and change what is wrong.