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Albie Sachs

Constitutional Court of South Africa

At times it was quite painful that your whiteness, whether you liked it or not, followed you all the way through. Even when I was blown up afterwards, my white body counted for more than the bodies of black people who were blown up, who were tortured far more severely than I was tortured. The world, the press, the media, controlled by people -- white themselves -- seeing the world through white eyes. Not even maliciously, just automatically. That's their standpoint, their point of reference. And so my amputation, my body counted for something. And then I had to think, "Well, what do I do about it?" And I said, "Well, it gives me access. It gives me a chance to speak." The New York Times had a full page spread, "Broken But Unbroken," with a lovely picture. At least I can be like an ambassador for all the others whose voices aren't heard. I must use this space and opportunities that they've got, even if they come with a privilege, to fight for justice in our country. But at times it was painful, even in prison.
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Albie Sachs

Constitutional Court of South Africa

I might say I discovered years later, after democracy was beginning to come to South Africa, and I was interviewed by Anthony Lewis, a columnist for The New York Times, about my attitude to the white guards and the others, and I explained that I felt I ought to be more angry than I was. And I said, "There's something wrong with me." He said, "You know, I've just spoken to Nelson Mandela. He said the same thing. And I've spoken to Walter Sisulu -- said the same thing -- and Ahmed Kathrada, who said the same thing." And I realized I belonged to a culture, a generation based on the values of the Freedom Charter. We were fighting against a system, a system of injustice. We weren't fighting against a race. We were fighting for a better country, a better society. That system, which had not only oppressed and imprisoned black people in terms of their hopes and their possibilities, but imprisoned whites in fear and narrowness and inwardness and arrogance and greed. That's what liberation meant. That's what emancipation meant.
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Albie Sachs

Constitutional Court of South Africa

And he (Oliver Tambo) said, "We've captured a number of people who were sent from Pretoria to destroy the organization. And we don't have any regulations about how they should be treated. The ANC is a political organization. It has an annual general meeting in terms of its statutes, and elects its leadership. You pay your subscription. You agree to the aims and objects. Political parties don't have provisions for locking people up and putting them on trial and deciding what to do with them. Can you help us?" And possibly the most important project -- legal project -- of my life emerged from that. He said, "It's very difficult, isn't it, to know what the standards are for treatment of captives?" In a rather cocky way, I said, "Well, not so difficult. We have international instruments that say no torture, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment." He said, "We use torture." I couldn't believe it. ANC -- fighting for freedom -- we use torture? He said it with a bleak face, and that was why he wanted me in there because what to do about it? The security people had captured these rascals who were trying to blow up the leadership and introduce poison and do all sorts of terrible things. They were beating them up. I didn't know at the time. I didn't know the details. They did emerge later, but he knew the details. And so we prepared our whole document, which was nothing short of a code of criminal law and procedure for a liberation movement in exile, without courts, without police force, without prisons. But how to deal with those people. The host country said, "It's your problem. Our courts are busy enough. You deal with it." So we had to establish a code of legality, and a concept of fundamental human rights. Fundamental human rights. No torture, no abuse, no ill treatment, whoever they are, whatever they're trying to do.
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Albie Sachs

Constitutional Court of South Africa

The ANC had a delegates conference, basically ANC people in exile -- a few from underground in South Africa -- in a small town called Kabwe in central Zambia. And we were surrounded by Zambian troops, in case commandos from the apartheid government regime came to take us all out and destroy us. We were discussing a future democracy in South Africa and fundamental rights for everybody. But in particular, we were discussing what to do with captives who'd been sent to destroy us and kill us, and should it be possible to use what were called -- euphemistically called -- intensive methods of interrogation. And one by one, I still remember so strongly the delegates coming. Some of them were in Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC, young people, and saying, "No. We don't use torture whatever the circumstances, whoever the enemy is, whatever the dangers, because we're not like that. We are fighting for life. How can we be against life and disrespect the human personality even of those sent to kill us and destroy us?" I felt so proud. As a lawyer I felt, you know, we lawyers, we speak about rule of law and no torture, and it's easy for us in our relatively comfortable lives. These were people risking danger every day in their work and their lives -- from very, very poor backgrounds -- insisting on those core elements that kept us together as an organization. We didn't want to become like the others.
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Jonas Salk

Developer of Polio Vaccine

The idea of evolution by design, designing the future, anticipating the future. I think of the need for more wisdom in the world, to deal with the knowledge that we have. At one time we had wisdom, but little knowledge. Now we have a great deal of knowledge, but do we have enough wisdom to deal with that knowledge? I define wisdom as the capacity to make retrospective judgments prospectively. I think these are human qualities, human attributes that need to be brought out, need to be drawn upon, need to be valued.
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Barry Scheck

Co-Founder, Innocence Project

Barry Scheck: I take great pride in the fact that we have a whole movement of people that are working on these cases, obviously, to get innocent people out of prison, and identify those who really committed the crime. But most importantly, it is a movement of criminal justice reform. And that we have made a big difference, I hope, in the system. We have prosecutors forming what we call "conviction integrity" units to try to look at miscarriages of justice and work cooperatively with defense lawyers to change the results. We are really trying to make some fundamental changes in the way the criminal justice system operates. And a lot of it is involving greater scientific approach to these problems. But also a lot of it has to do with bringing people back to key and fundamental ideas of justice. Because I think that properly understood, that's what we are all about in this system. The prosecutor is not just about winning cases, we hope, but about making sure that the results are right, and we have to figure out ways to give them space to correct mistakes. And whether it's the defense lawyer, or the prosecutor, or a judge in the system, we have to do a lot better at policing ourselves. And when there is misconduct, we really have to hold people accountable, and we really haven't been doing that adequately in this system.
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Barry Scheck

Co-Founder, Innocence Project

Barry Scheck: Frankly, you just have to believe in what you are doing, and understand that you are playing by the rules, and you are doing the job that the system requires you to do. I never had any qualms about that. We were brought in to do what we had to do in the Simpson case. Frankly, in the issues that we were litigating, even our adversaries recognized in the end that we were right about them. But look, if you don't -- I teach this all the time to law students -- if you want to have a criminal justice system where people's rights are defended, it is just a fact of life that the state has to be held to its proof. It is part of our system that we want to protect the innocent from being wrongfully convicted, and there will be some people that are guilty that escape, because the state doesn't have the proof to demonstrate that they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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Barry Scheck

Co-Founder, Innocence Project

Barry Scheck: Well, the state screws up the evidence all the time, but the defense does too. Which is another great tragedy, that inadequate defense lawyers cause miscarriages of justice as well. But the bottom line, in terms of personal morality, it's role-defined. I have never had a problem being a criminal defense lawyer. I think it's liberty's last champion. If you care about liberty, and you care about a democracy and you care about it functioning properly -- particularly for those who are the most despised -- you want a good defense lawyer, because it's the good defense lawyer that keeps the system honest, and keeps it running properly, and prevents miscarriages of justice. And you have to have the guts to do it. So I think it's a noble calling. It's a hard job, but we really are liberty's last champions. I have no doubt about it. But you know, the funny thing is, a lot of my colleagues, they said, "Well, you ceased being a defense lawyer a long time ago. You're just getting innocent people out of jail and then suing on their behalf. That's easy to do." I mean, not easy, but I don't sit around saying, "Oh gee, am I doing the wrong thing?" at night. I feel pretty good about what we do.
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