Perhaps you were, strolling the online express, reading a book or magazine, travelling aboard and passed a statue or simply watching your favourite TV Show, chances are you’ve seen her image and you’ve never bothered to ask yourself the question, the question whose answer is one the strongest and highly revered symbology and representations of the law “THE LADY OF JUSTICE”. But who or what is the meaning of this historic icon?
The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.Martin Luther King
To understand this, we must go back to an ancient time or to be more precise ancient Greece between 700-480 B.C. The Greeks were one of the civilizations that were very big on law and justice and regarded law as being closely related to both justice and ethics. In those times, the law gradually developed as a system under which parties were denied the right to seek the realization of their claims by private force and compelled to submit their cases to authorities designated and empowered to try the claims and hand down binding judgments.
Litigants(Counsel in present-day), are believed to have been forged by an ever-increasing pressure of public opinion to refrain from armed feud and blood vengeance and to seek the decision of the princes who by virtue of their social and personal preponderance were predestined to act as arbitrators(Present-day Judges and Magistrates)
But let’s turn our attention back to the Lady of Justice. The Romans referred to her as “Justitia” while the Greeks referred to her as “Themis”. In her depiction, she is noted to be in an Elegant white silk one sleeve shoulder dress, holding in her left hand a two-tray scale which she uses to balance the truth of justice, and in her right hand, an arming sword. She is also wearing a blindfold covering her eyes but I don’t think she is facing a firing squad. The items/ symbols that embody the Lady Justice aren’t just for show, each of these items/ symbols has its own significant and unique meaning;
These represent impartiality and the obligation of the law through its spokeswomen to weigh the evidence presented to the court. If the scales tip up, then the evidence brought against the accused is not sufficient or heavy enough to justify the crime and thus the individual/individuals are and or innocent.
But if the scales tip down then the evidence is indeed heavy and sufficient enough to justify the crime and punishment for the accused.
This item symbolizes enforcement and respect and means that justice stands by its decision and ruling, the sword also symbolizes that justice is a double-edged blade and can both pierce and cut through any veil to arrive at the truth. The fact that the sword is unsheathed and very visible is a sign that justice is transparent and is not an implement of fear.
This particular item/symbol is truly special because it shows that even without sight, justice is never blind to the truth and nothing or no one can escape its sight. It represents impartiality and objectivity of the law. It doesn’t let outside factors such as politics, wealth, or fame influence its decisions.
An interesting fact is when addressing a female judge amongst the common law system she is usually referred to as “Her Lady Justice”.
The Lady of Justice is depicted in various artworks from paintings to sculptures, coats of arms or metal statues. These can be seen in a number of countries throughout the globe- Africa, the Middle East, Southern and Eastern Asia Europe etc. You will find it in front of London’s central criminal court, Frankfurt am main Germany, the Palace of justice in Rome Italy and over the gates that give access to the central courtyard of Dublin Castle in Ireland where you will see her gleaming statues. But perhaps the most infamous country to portray her image is the United States of America where you find the Lady of Justice statue in courthouses, law offices and legal educational institutions and most notable of these is the statue at the Supreme Court of the U.S.A.
The importance of the Lady Justice goes back many thousands of years, and still to date the Lady Justice continues to be an important figure for justice systems all over the world and is ever serving as a reminder of the ideals and values fundamental to the law
And as such, the significance of the Lady of Justice has since the beginning of its foundation shone and continues to shine her commitment to the pursuit of the ends of justice, and behind her all officers, judges, leaders and litigants of law order and justice rally for the greater good of all Humanity.
The Author of this Article is Paul Muranga, a Legal Assistant working with ABM and Co Advocates. He aims to achieve a legendary foot print in this Nation’s history by exploiting his strong points and talents, to become a great lawyer, humbly serve the Judiciary.
He has a bucket list…yes he does and he aims to cross off all the ticks on that bucket list.
His vision is to strongly impact on my generation, the current generation and all those to come. Clearly we will be seeing a lot from this young man. Stay tuned!!
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