No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
When it comes to lawyers it appears that no good deed goes unpunished. After all, we are easy targets, right? Recently a Des Moines Register letter to the editor unfairly criticized some lawyers who had volunteered for junior high and high school mock trials. The letter said the lawyers made a "mockery" of our mock trial system because certain lawyers admitted to students that they had not read the materials before judging the contest. The writer further stated the lawyers gave the impression to the students that due diligence is not important within the Iowa bar.
How unfortunate these volunteers would be called out on the carpet. Lawyers across Iowa volunteer countless hours judging junior high, high school and university mock trial tournaments each year. These tournaments include local, regional, state and national tournaments. Each year lawyers leave their busy law practices and spend time away from their families to assist students. The mock trials occur during the middle of work day, in the evening and sometimes even on the weekend. The only compensation is knowing you have served your community. Due to tight schedules these lawyers may not always have time to read the case materials before volunteering. Does this mean they should not volunteer?
The reality is that every time a lawyer steps in front of a jury that jury is hearing the case for the first time. It is the lawyer’s obligation to educate the jury about the facts of the case. Often judges may be unfamilar with the facts of a case before a bench trial. Again, the lawyer must educate the judge. I see nothing wrong with a mock trial judge that has not read the case still volunteering their time. Perhaps it is more realistic and less contrived.
Despite the writer’s pot shot it is obvious these lawyers demonstrate each year that community service and assisting our youth is important. Is that such a bad example?