Legal Abuse Syndrome and how it affects veterans in courtrooms
Combat veterans tend to face multiple challenges upon their return to civilian lifestyle. In the past decade, extensive research has been conducted upon Legal Abuse Syndrome in veterans as a sub-symptom of PTSD. The major reason behind multiple studies lies in the fact that veteran arrests for criminal offenses have seen a manifold increase in the past few years. However, the primary question to address here is whether it is justified to treat combat veterans the same way as civilian criminals?
What is Legal abuse?
Due to the strict nature of the judiciary system, each link of the judiciary chain is susceptible to being the reason behind Legal abuse. From litigators and judiciary to law enforcers and attorneys, everyone has a considerable potential of damaging the mental health of combat return veterans. Legal Abuse is the result of malicious motives of the parties involved and includes ill-treatment of the accused, vexatious litigation, fraudulent attorneys, and corrupt judiciary. This unfair series of events and lack of empathy thereof results in the development of Legal Abuse Syndromes in the criminally accused, be it combat veteran or a civilian.
Cold Nature of Legal proceedings:
As much as anyone would expect the courtrooms to practice empathy towards the victim and accused, it is hardly the ever the case. The situation gets much more difficult when the accused is a combat veteran with a record of lawful and legally justified homicide. Judges, litigators, attorneys, and law enforcers are much likely to turn the head of the gun towards simply because they are accused of a crime. It is as unfair as it can get and results in Legal Abuse towards the veteran. More often than not, courtrooms serve as chambers of lies, frauds, corruption, abuses, and deceit, which are the major contributors towards the development of Legal Abuse Syndrome.
Combat veterans are unlike civilians
Undoubtedly, combat veterans have a completely different lifestyle than civilians. The fact that they have served the country in a violent arena often prevents them from accepting judicial jurisdiction over their behavior. In extreme cases, the cold treatment from judiciary system personnel leads to the development of despicable feelings of distrust and hatred in the accused veterans. The presence of PTSD serves as a trigger resulting in an explosion of Legal Abuse Syndrome’s symptoms. Since veterans are unlike civilians, they fail to accept being treated like civilian criminals.
Coercive behavior of Veteran courts:
Many State court systems have recognized the need for special treatment of veterans and have established special Veteran Courts. These Courts achieve the main goal of segregating combat veterans from civilians. Even in Veteran Courts, however, the coercive nature of existing legislation and attorneys often leads to mistreatment of veterans and leads them to accept responsibility for crimes they did not commit. This makes things even worse.
The rigorous combat training designed to program our soldiers for the heartless killing of enemies is something that becomes deep-rooted in the personality of combat veterans. These people rightly believe themselves as the saviors of the nation and any ill-treatment coming from the judiciary system directly affects their decision to devote themselves to the nation’s security. As a result, combat veterans tend to question every past, present, and future decision, which results in more significant challenges in courtrooms regarding damaged reputation.
In short, Legal Abuse Syndrome in combat veterans is especially malignant. It also hints at the dire need of instilling honesty and empathy in veteran courtrooms for the sake of eliminating mental disorders.
How are female lawyers inspiring young girls to achieve their goals?
More about the importance of women in the legal profession, their influence, and where the future’s taking us.
Law has always been regarded as a patriarchal industry. However, things started to change a few years ago, with more opportunity for women to carve stable and fruitful career paths in this industry. Back in the year 2018, the American Bar Association (ABA) reported that 36% of legal professionals consisted of women. This is a net increase compared to estimation from previous years, as the numbers used to be much lower. Today, the status of women in the legal business is on the rise, and the numbers are on the increase. Many more women are pursuing careers in the legal world. The best part is, this 'isn't only something 'that's happening in countries such as the United States. In fact, this is a wonderful global trend. The legal profession is opening its doors to women. Even in countries where it would have deemed a nearly impossible career choice, the situation is changing. There are now more options for those who are looking into this professional choice. For example, the number of female lawyers in the USA is 486,730.
The progress doesn’t end with lawyers, women have also been making great strides when it comes to judge as well. Throughout the USA there are approximately 18,000 judges, women make up rough 6,000 of them or 33%. Women trial lawyers must also occasionally deal with opposing counsel and judges who make inappropriate or stereotypical comments. Many women have reported being patronized and called “honey” or “dear” or referred to by their first name in the courtroom. Indeed, a Defense Research Institute survey found that 70% of women attorneys experienced gender bias in the courtroom. With more women throughout the legal field and a commanding places, that will be greatly reduced.
Undoubtedly, it is very important and significant that women are increasingly gaining a better status in many industries. This also includes the legal profession on a local and international level. There are many more opportunities for women to get a good education and pursue a career. As a result, there are higher chances for these women to achieve positions of power and influence. The sort of diversity is good for community because it brings in more authenticity and fairness.
The changes are need from top to bottom, from clerical personnel to judges, let’s not forget the gatekeepers of the industry, the ABA. Historically the ABA predominantly male and white. That’s has caused many problems, barring different races from joining to even lawsuits. The first women were admitted in 1918 and the ABA did not grant membership to people of color prior to 1943, according to its online timeline.
It's so great to see that there is a lot of support for women in the legal industry. For instance, the web now hosts many communities and websites. These platforms are specifically dedicated to the empowerment of female lawyers and other women in the legal sphere. In addition to that, the world recently hosted the very first Women in Law Leadership Event. This remarkable event took place in San Francisco, California at the top of the SalesForce Tower, where it made headlines in a very positive light. The conference was attended by women from various countries, as the event received the enthusiastic support of businesses, politicians, and various global organizations. With attorneys and executives, to share life journeys, obstacles and solutions that got them to where they are today.This is a sign that women in the legal world are enjoying a healthier status than ever before.
Filmmaker Michael Moore recently released a poignant documentary titled "Where To Invade Next?" which dealt with various social topics. One of the most exciting segments of the document was the section discussing female leadership and women in power. In the movie, it is clear to see that countries with equal opportunities for women tend to have much better social and economic stability. This is especially when women are enabled to take on decision-making positions. In much the same way, the legal sphere as a whole can benefit from the female perspective, subverting the age-old, typically patriarchal structures which have long been a stale pillar of the legal profession through the whole world.
In addition to the positive contributions they might foster in various areas, women in law can also inspire the younger generations. Now more than ever, young people need "real" role models, that aren't just social media stars or celebrities. It's crucial, especially for young girls, to value their self-worth, and see that they can go far by using their intellect. Leaving many inspired and with an identifiable route to pursue law careers. Rather than having to be dependent and complacent, young girls see they can take control of their lives.
This is precisely why female lawyers can be very inspiring from young girls around the world. They are positive influences, showing young people that they too could have many opportunities in their lives. In other words, success is attainable, regardless of their background. Today, a female lawyer is more than just her job title: 'it's a true inspiration. A role model for the younger generation to look up to, as they are in the process of figuring out their present, and their future.
In conclusion, the legal industry can no longer ignore the relevance of women. The vital contribution that they bring to the table is precious and absolutely undeniable. Although we are in a very good place right now, the road towards widespread egalitarian relationships between male and female professionals in the legal sphere is still quite long. With more and more women enjoying prominent roles, this industry is in a very good place.
'There's much work to be done, and there are some challenges that need to be addressed, in order to further open that door and let some fresh air in!
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With all the talk and advancement in the mental health space, beyond Kanye changing his hair color, there’s a syndrome that’s been looming in the shadows of the legal industry for decades. Legal Abuse Syndrome (LAS) is a subcategory of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but its occurrence is rarely publicized. Similar to the fight on the battle field where soldiers endure high stress and near death experiences, LAS is a natural response to cumulative trauma caused or exacerbated by experiencing injustice during litigation. The injustice comes in many forms, from false statements going on the record to being coerced to take a plea deal, and creates a feeling of helplessness. Everyone has a way to deal with their issues but it is important to seek out help and find ways to relax and enjoy yourself when these feelings set in.
Whether it’s your first year practicing or your 30th year, walking into the courtroom is a stressful situation, starting from the layout and seating of the judge and jurors to the way the prosecutor is postering at you. I wrote an in-depth article analyzing how the design of the courthouse is meant to enlist a submissive role from you. This scenery is a subtle force on the defense team and plaintiff to make them seem wimpy and crummy. The court is meant to represent justice and inclusion but once you’re in the courtroom and ready to make your arguments the tale is different.
Lawyers have an image in the public as dishonest people, that image is a tough one to disprove even though there are honest ones. Many times prosecutors and judges are less than honest. Prosecutor have sometimes withheld pertinent information about evidence or juror selection. Inaccurate claims have been put on the record as facts, causing a skewed jury perception of the defense team. That taint remains in the subconscious and makes it nearly impossible to achieve an unbiased resolution. Rulings like this can wreak havoc on the lawyer and plaintiff. And, as any trial lawyer knows, the reading of a jury verdict is the most stressful moment of all.
The stakes are different for each party but the psychological abuse is not. The key moments when PTSD sets in can be monitored with biofeedback equipment, from sweat to accelerated heart or even heart attacks. I imagine the same can be done with LAS. Along with all the things going in an attorney’s personal life, the addition of the stress from litigation can exacerbate or be the factor to cause LAS. Attorneys must learn how to deal with stress in order to survive LAS and lead happy lives in retirement. I’ve known way too many very skilled and successful trial attorneys who have not made it to retirement.
Over the years, I have developed my own mode of stress management, and can attest to its success by pointing out my present age (62 years old) and the fact the black hair you see in that photograph on my website is natural and not dyed. I divide my stress management into three main areas: (1) client relations; (2) case load control; and (3) diet and exercise.
Maintaining good client relations is essential to both a successful practice and good health. Not only does an attorney have an obligation under the Rules of Ethics to respond to clients and keep them informed about their case but also a special duty as a professional to do the best job possible to defendant and advance the client’s interest in the legal matter at issue. If you do these things, your client should have good reason to be happy with your services. Unfortunately, some clients are very hard to please. With these people, I do everything I believe ethical and legally possible to follow through on the client’s wishes. Sometimes, even this is not enough. In these cases, I will tell the client it is better for both of us, if the client finds another attorney. Sometimes, even a big fee is not worth the aggravation and long-term consequences to my health and reputation.
A good part of managing client relations is to manage my caseload. I used to work in the Public Defender’s Office with caseloads sometimes approaching 100 and know the stress and unhappiness this can cause. In private practice, bigger caseloads mean bigger revenue but, again, I’ve found this not to be a long-term benefit. With more cases come more “problem clients,” more headaches, and more unrealized expectations. My caseload now consists of five (5) trial-level cases, six (6) post-conviction cases, and five (5) direct appeals. I know all of my clients’ names and can spend more time on each of their cases, which, in turn, leads to more happy endings to the cases. This also allows me more free time away from the stress of my law office. I also can justify higher fees to each of my 16 clients, because I am spending more of my billable time on each of their cases. One important message I would like to give all potential clients of criminal defense attorneys—quantity does not equal quality, and, if you want a cheap lawyer, you get what you pay for.
Finally, stress management must also include looking after your own health. This means watching what you eat and drink and keeping your body fit. As we get older, maintaining health becomes more difficult, but, in the legal profession, we must keep ourselves able to deal with the mental and physical stress associated with LAS. One of the new trends in stress management involves “mindfulness” therapy and meditation. I haven’t participated in this to any great degree (I still try to run at least 5K every morning) but know people who swear by it.
Under the American with Disabilities Act, a disability can be any sort of impediment that requires accommodations to be made so you can perform with full effectiveness. Protracted litigation can feel like a war of attrition because of the constant arguing and psychological warfare. This same warfare can be detrimental to your health, causing long and short term side effects. What that means is any condition, it doesn’t have to be transitory to qualify. This applies in the courtroom, it requires the judge take on a ministerial role, the judge is now mandated by law to accommodate to your specific needs as a person suffering with LAS. The same way there’s requirements for physical accommodations, there are also testimonial and participatory accommodations that must be made. All this is to ensure that everyone is able to seek justice and have full executive functionality during that process. Discrimination occurs when any entity cover by the Act, treats an individual with a disability unfavorably because they are disabled. Any form of discrimination should be taken up with the ADA access coordinator or directly to the United States Access Board. I know personally of one attorney who was able to use LAS to support a workman’s compensation claim (at the Public Defender’s Office). Is LAS a proper basis for an ADA claim? Time will tell.