Combined Leadership Statement of the IADC Board of Directors
We were elected to serve as leaders of the International Association of Defense Counsel. In that capacity we have been confronted by current events in the United States of America, which have invoked fear and anxiety in many of our members, and have raised concerns around the world.
In assessing our responsibility as leaders, we have been mindful of the eloquent words of Martin Luther King, Jr. on several points:
- “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
- “Our lives begin to end the day that we become silent about things that matter.”
- “The time is always right to do what is right.”
- "Hate begets hate. Violence begets violence."
Similarly, we have considered the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
- “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: … Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
- “The ultimate measure of a moral society is the kind of world it leaves to its children.”
After thoughtful consideration, we have concluded that being silent in the face of this crisis is not an option, and that the following combined leadership statements are necessary.
On Racism, Prejudice, and Justice
Racism, and prejudice in all forms, are impediments to a just society. When these views appear in those in authority, racism, and prejudice effectively preclude the existence of a just society. In the end, the rule of law on which our society is based fails when justice is not available to all members of our society. That many law-abiding citizens of color fear even peripheral encounters with law enforcement is tragic beyond measure.
On Lawful Arrests
Lawful arrest procedures and due process are essential to the rule of law when criminal conduct is suspected. Check forgery, trespassing, shoplifting, and other similar offenses, proven or unproven, are not capital offenses. The deaths of George Floyd, and other unarmed individuals before him, cannot be justified.
On Support for Law Enforcement Officers and the Boundaries of that Support
Law enforcement officers have a difficult and dangerous job. We collectively believe the majority of the officers seek to do justice every day. These officers deserve our support and respect. They also deserve the benefit of the doubt in emergency situations they face on the job. The officers who behave unjustly need to be rooted out and dismissed. Those law enforcement officers who commit crimes should be prosecuted. Whether motivated by racism, prejudice, or simple cruelty, brutal tactics employed against suspects are improper.
On Protests, Violence, and Vandalism
The right to protest and petition government peacefully is essential to permit citizens to secure justice. The majority of those protesting are behaving peacefully. Unfortunately, there have been extensive examples of violence and vandalism. Notably, none of these actions achieve justice. They only damage the community further and impose tremendous costs on the innocent. Such actions must be rejected categorically. Such crimes should be investigated and punished. However, unfounded assumptions regarding those committing such acts should be avoided.
Basic human rights, justice, and the rule of law are global issues. As leaders, we will listen to those impacted by these events and use our small platform to promote a vision of society within the legal community that promotes peace, unity, justice, and human rights.
We ask you to be leaders within your own community. Oppose racism and prejudice. Spread a message of peace and unity, and support justice for all. Most importantly, demand an end to the politics of division and petition your political leaders to unify society around principles of equality, justice, and the rule of law.
As leaders of this Association, we promise to work with our committees to achieve tangible results and work product to support our members and the rule of law. We welcome your input.