Copyright (c) 1996 The St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research of St. John's University School of Law
The Catholic Lawyer
ARTICLE: SYMBOLS, SLOGANS, AND CYMBALS OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: WHERE'S THE SUBSTANCE?
36 Catholic Law. 375
Honorable Joseph W. Bellacosa *
St. Thomas Aquinas, 1 quoting Cicero and drawing on the great Roman Senator and orator, as he often did, reiterated that a skillful speaker must combine three essential goals for any audience: docere (to teach), movere (to arouse moral fervor), and delectare (to have a little fun together). 2
I am gratified to be at this Convocation and to be granted the opportunity to share a perspective on peace and justice in relation to the equally sweeping subject of criminal justice. Shaped in part by my Vincentian educational experience, I will try to touch discreetly on a few current topics, remaining ever conscious of my judicial ethical obligation not to commit or predispose myself in advance of ruling on pending or likely-to-occur cases and issues.
I beg your indulgence in advance for inflicting a cascade of words on you - an unfortunate affliction of a disproportionate number of lawyers, judges, and other public officials - even a few academics I know. My family gently and humorously, but ever so pointedly, reminds me of my dread strain of this tendency to prolixity. So let me please, as a preface, summarize a simplified version of my remarks. With no sense that I have composed an exclusive or comprehensive list, I propose five theses for our consideration this evening:
1. Human law has human limits.
2. The judicial role in criminal jurisprudence is limited, not ultimate.
3. Government functions better with built-in checks and balances to offset abuses, incomplete knowledge, ...
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