Character and the Law

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The Omoluabi principle of Iwa means Character. Character is the essential moral and ethical traits of which an individual consists. The degree of a person’s character is not always initially evident. In situations of conflict and adversity, however, character is revealed.

Our legal system is one where character is essential. Being an adversarial system, very little compares to the opposition and the antagonism that an advocate confronts on a regular basis. Such an advocate is faced with opposition from witnesses from the other side, another lawyer that is trying to thwart his/her success, as well as a judge that may sometimes be in total disagreement with the advocate’s case.

A lawyer regularly faces verbal attacks, sometimes personal ones, from different actors within the court room. Despite this, an advocate is called upon to maintain character that displays: dignity, focus, and self-control.
Further to that point, great cases are often decided based on the character of the parties involved. The justice system is primarily one of fact finding. While this is not a hard science, much is made of the participant’s dispositions to tell the truth. Honesty is a classic and universally praised character trait. Witnesses that display this trait are often more likely to be believed that those who do not.

In helping courts determine character, where permissible by law, courts will allow certain types of witnesses to be questioned as to their character. A witness’s propensity to lie, to be violent or irrational are parts of their character that evidence may be called on to establish.

Just like in the courtroom, character is also used to establish the truth about who an individual is on a day to day basis. As a person is tested and tried, the nature of their character will be revealed. It is for that reason that it is important that we all strive to cultivate great Omoluabi character traits.

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