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Legally Speaking


Issue: December, 2007
Author: Sleeter C. Dover

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Executive Director's Report

“First thing we do, is kill all the lawyers.”

The jocularity of the famous Henry VI, part 2 quote “first thing we do, is kill all the lawyers” has lost most, if not all, of its humor of late. While William Shakespeare appears to have recognized ages ago that a good laugh can always be had at the expense of us legal professionals, General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan seems to have taken the bards pronouncement literally.

While Gen. Musharraf’s shocking actions of suspending the Pakistani constitution, shutting down the Supreme Court, and jailing more than 3,000 lawyers still reverberates around the freedom loving world, one has to wonder if Shakespeare’s protagonists “Dick the Butcher” and Jack Cade have finally found a kindred spirit that is more than willing to, as is popularly understood today as “taking it to the next level,” and following through on the recommendation of Dick and Jack.

Of particular note to the Wyoming State Bar, the Musharraf edicts come on the heels of the recently adopted WSB Strategic Plan Goal Number One, “The Wyoming State Bar will actively promote the role of law in society and raise awareness about the merits of the legal system.” To cynics and doubters, if there continue to be any, of the timeliness and necessity of advancing this goal, the events in Pakistan must surely have removed any and all such protestations. Admittedly, not even the Officers and Commissioners of the Wyoming State Bar envisioned that, in this day and age, such a direct and deadly threat to the rule of law would materialize on such a massive and brutal scale. But this event clearly reinforces our need and commitment to remain diligent and alert to the ever present threats to the rule of law.

As the season of “tidings of joy” approach, I would suggest to each and every one of you that this year there should be no doubt whatsoever surrounding what we have to be thankful for. And I do not refer to the “sugar plums dancing in our heads” but rather to the demonstrated strength and forbearance of the rule of law in our society. We, each of us together, constitute the front, middle, and last line of defense of the rule of law in our society. And have no doubt about it, the threats are real, and though often disguised and camouflaged, they probe around the edges of our legal system on a daily basis. The “politicization of the judiciary,” the attacks on the jury system, government by petition, all of these seemingly innocuous so called “citizen involvement” initiatives, if left unchecked and untested may ultimately result in a “clear and present” danger to our own ostensibly “safe” system of laws.

Meanwhile, back with “Dick and Jack,” have you ever wondered why they were so eager to eliminate the lawyers? Well, it turns out that our friends Dick and Jack were somewhat nefarious characters of dubious and shadowy social standing. As such, lawyers clearly presented a very real and profound threat to their continued ill gotten gains, and their very liberty, as it were--not totally unlike the circumstances Gen. Musharraf found himself in several weeks ago. And as is so often the case, the most elemental and predictable response of shadowy and perhaps nefarious characters when threatened with possible loss of “hearth and home,” is to, either symbolically or literally, eliminate the most serious threat they face. Under the rule of law, of course, this most often comes down to the lawyers.

So, go forth and embrace, enjoy and rejoice in the greetings and tidings of the season, but never, ever forget or foreclose in your heart or mind that chilling warning issued long ago by the bard. Kill all the lawyers, indeed!

Copyright © 2007 – Wyoming State Bar