“Makes One Appreciate Our Legal System Notwithstanding Its Faults”*

9 min readApr 16
Photo by Aurelien Romain on Unsplash

One of my former law partners, a brilliant trial lawyer and mentor who is now retired, spent the first part of his career prosecuting federal tax crimes and the latter part defending people charged with those and similar crimes. He sent me a link to the remarks Vladamir Kara-Murza gave at the closing session of his recent trial in Moscow. The Washington Post published Kara-Murza’s statement in English and its original Russian. My former colleague said, “Makes one appreciate our legal system notwithstanding its faults.” I couldn’t agree more. He may have sent me the link in response to my recent criticism of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s disclosure ‘oversights’ and apparent conflicts of interest. Regardless, I am glad he did.

Drawing the comparison and exposing the expansive gulf between Russia and the United States (particularly, in this instance, for most people drawn into their respective criminal justice systems), my friend makes an important point. I take from it that we must all be vigilant in preserving and, where possible, improving an imperfect justice system that is integral to what some have characterized as “the worst form of government, except all the others.” Given that the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but 25% of its incarcerated population, and its “mass incarceration disproportionately impacts the poor and people of color” without making us safer, Criminal justice reform in the United States is an important step in the right direction.

Oil on Canvas, Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Robert H. and Cheri Van Wagoner**

You may recall, Kara-Murza, who survived two poisonings that are widely blamed on the Kremlin, after returning to Russia was arrested and imprisoned a year ago while awaiting trial on evolving charges. He was taken into custody “for no more than raising his voice and elevating the voices of others in Russia who disagree with the Kremlin, its war in Ukraine, and its escalating repression within Russia,” according to Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director of Human Rights Watch. Rights Watchdog Calls For Russia To ‘Immediately And Unconditionally’ Release Kremlin Critic Kara-Murza.


Exercising my right not to remain silent. Criminal defense and First Amendment attorney.