Vermont Bar Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2 Vermont Bar Journal, Spring 2017, Volume 43, No. 1 - Page 34

Chair 34 in the world. Each country represents a somewhat, if not a radically different set of laws, rules, and principles people apply when governing their lives, grounded in numerous cultural, religious, ethnic, and ra- cial perspectives of right and wrong, good and evil. Twenty-eight percent of the world is Christian, twenty-two percent Muslim, fif- teen percent Hindu, eight and half percent Buddhists, fourteen percent are found in the “other religions” category, and twelve percent are categorized as nonreligious. Under each general heading there is a vast number of denominations or sects. For ex- ample, there are over 1500 different Chris- tian sects or faith groups. And even with- in a group espousing the same morals, in- dividuals apply them differently to real life circumstances. Advances in technology are bringing the earth’s seven billion diverse inhabit- ants into contact with each other more and more frequently. We bump into each other, over and over again. The innumerable in- teractions mean people will witness more behavior that is wrong or evil. Therefore, there will be a growing cry, “There ought to be a law!” This continuing call for codification of ethics–local, national or international–hap- pens in many contexts: corporate, govern- mental, or across a profession or industry. This is the reality when so many people have such easy access to one another. However, as discussed, codification alone will not result in more good behav- ior. We cannot expect that codification will increase good behavior nor can we choose simply not to codify. Nevertheless, we can- not abandon our desire to increase good behavior. Nor can we abandon our confi- dence that, given the opportunity, most people will exercise their discretion, their choices in relation to morals, positively. This brings us to the Second Chair. Tom Robinson was a black man accused of raping and beating a white woman in “Jim Crow” Alabama in the 1930’s. To put it mildly, due process and trial by a jury of one’s peers were not the popular approach to resolve such issues in the ru- ral South at that time. There were 4,742 lynchings in America from 1882 to 1964. Alabama accounted for 347 of these and the South at large over 3,130. Rape, at- tempted rape, and insult to a white person accounted for 1,285, about 27 percent of these lynchings. A black man accused of one of these crimes could reasonably ex- pect to die without due process of law. Tom Robinson was not destined for trial. He was jailed and charged. The local judge asked the best-liked, most respected law- yer in Maycomb County to represent Tom in this lost cause—Atticus Finch. You know the rest of the story. Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird won a Pulitzer Prize. It was made into a movie and Gregory Peck won the Academy Award for his portrayal of Atticus Finch. In 2003 the American Film Institute named Atticus Finch the number one hero in 100 years of film, ahead of Indi- ana Jones and James Bond. But what you do not know is that an examination of this story, and thousands of others, illustrates well the principle of the Second Chair. Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960, just as the modern civil rights move- ment really began to heat up. She used At- ticus’s young daughter, Scout, as the voice to teach us. It was a Sunday night and word came to Atticus that the locals were going to the jail to administer justice. Atticus went to the jail, set up a chair and a small living room lamp he’d brought with him and sat outside the jail reading and waiting. Un- beknownst to Atticus, his son, Jem, Scout, and their friend Dill had followed him and were hiding behind a bush, watching. Soon local justice arrived in the form of cars filled with angry and determined southern white men. Scout didn’t recog- nize any of them. The men got out of their cars and told Atticus to leave. The moment got tense. Scout and the boys busted out from hiding and ran to Atticus. Scout was surprised at the fear that flashed across At- ticus’s face at seeing the children. Scout did not understand what was happening as she looked again at the crowd for a famil- iar face. Harsh words were spoken telling Atticus to send the children home. Jem re- fused to go, sensing the danger to Atticus. Finally, Scout recognized someone in the crowd. It was Walter Cunningham, a cli- ent of Atticus. She said, “Hey, Mr. Cunning- ham.” He pretended not to hear her. She began a solo, innocent dialogue with him about his work with Atticus, about school, about his son Walter, and so on. 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