An Officer of The Court?

An Officer of The Court?

Are advocates officers of the court? In this article, I argue that they are not.

The argument that advocates are officers of the court is usually accepted by almost all without question. I did, when I started practicing law.

Especially, in a country where most practising advocates think that they have missed the bus to a government job, the proposition is not just accepted but embraced and even advertised. That's why the moment a young advocate gets to file a brief in a "higher" court, the advocate props up a board before his/her office or house or prints a visiting card, that says:

John Doe, Advocate, High Court of my dreams
(higher than the junkyard where you practice)

So, when someone says to a young advocate that he/she is an officer of the court, instead of questioning that, the advocate probably thinks, "ആര്, ഞാനോ? ഓഫീസറോ? എന്റെ ഭാഗ്യം!"

Yeah, why cry over the lost opportunity to clear a PSC exam? You have just been knighted as an officer of the court.

"Well, what's wrong with being an officer of the court? Isn't it a noble and privileged position to assist the judge in the journey to administer justice?", you may ask.

ഇതിപ്പോ ഓഫീസർ മാത്രമല്ല, പിടിച്ചു അസിറ്റന്റും ആക്കി.

By this, we can understand who wants lawyers to remain "officers" of the court. You know who.

Why are lawyers not officers of the court? To put it in layman's terms, "the court doesn't pay the lawyer any renumeration". മനസ്സിലായില്ലേ? കോടതി അല്ല വക്കീലിന് ശമ്പളം തരുന്നത് എന്ന്.

"I know that", you may argue. However, this self-evident truth distances the lawyer from being an actual officer of the court. The lawyer is not an agent of any court. So, the title is only philosophical.

There is, of course, an exception where the lawyer acts by commission or as an amicus. Still, there is an independence that officers don't enjoy. Yeah, enjoy.

This philosophical title has been used for centuries now. And this crap has been entertained for far too long.

A lawyer is no officer. I could say that a lawyer is an officer of the Law and justice. But, I don't know whether the term "officer" is essential. An advocate occupies no "office". That does not mean that an advocate doesn't have duties; in that sense, an advocate is an officer.

The advocate's obligation lies to larger things like the Law, justice, truth, the Constitution; not even to the whims of the client (of whom the lawyer may be an agent). But in no way is the lawyer anyone's employee.

I know this might have been a bit pedantic or even a rant on semantics. But, you get the idea.