12 Mar

Bringing Balance and Conscience to the Justice System

Judge faith s. hochberg

Life isn’t fair. That is what we hear from a young age, and life is pretty quick at delivering a situation to drive that point home. There can be plenty of difficult hurdles and injustices to face as we grow through life. A personal bankruptcy, that could have been avoided were it not for unexpected medical expenses, as is the case with 62% of personal bankruptcies. It sure wasn’t the injured or ill individual’s plan to be unwell, and yet he or she ends up having to pay dearly for it. That certainly does not seem fair. Or take those 50% of black Americans who have admitted to being on the receiving end of discrimination at work or even at the voting booth. Such a civil rights violation is not only unfair, but also a basic human rights issue as well. And what about our rights to breathe fresh air? About 5,000 lives could be saved every single year, and we could stop thousands of heart and respiratory disease cases from ever existing if we were to take a stand against industrial plants spewing ridiculous amounts of toxic air pollution.

How do we turn it all around?
Pages and pages could be filled with all the things that are unfair in life. But what good is focusing on the negative, or stewing about the way things are, only to get riled up about how awful the outlook seems? The key is to do something. Focus on what can be changed, and take steps to change it. It can be a seemingly small gesture like being good to a stranger or standing up for someone who just needs somebody to have their back. Or it could be even bigger, like getting involved with qui tam actions, or being the whistleblower at a level that others may not have the guts to step up to. Speaking up could even lead to criminal justice reform in some cases.

What exactly are qui tam actions?
Qui tam actions refer to the lengthy Latin phrase roughly translated as “the one who sues for the king and for himself.” It is a situation where an everyday citizen can bring fraudulent activity to the attention of the proper authorities within the court system. And it often pays to be the honest individual, as the whistleblower is rewarded with a percentage of the damages recovered in the lawsuit. Bringing such a lawsuit to court on behalf of the government has roots that date back centuries, as the name itself suggests, when individuals with insider knowledge of criminal activity would bring it to the attention of the king and courts. The practice still stands today, luckily, as some cases would never be brought to light without the noble actions of those individuals with strong moral compasses. In such cases, life can turn out to be fair.

Yes, there are many cases that prove the old adage “life isn’t fair.” But there are things that we can do to strike a balance and bring justice wherever we can. Stepping up to speak out against those taking advantage of the system or of those who can’t fight for themselves is a major act of kindness that leads to the justice deserved. It all boils down to how we treat each other.

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