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“Presumption of Ignorance” by Guest Blogger Tonza Ruffin Buffaloe

Today we are doing a different kind guest blog, turning attention to Tonza Ruffin Buffaloe’s blog, southernmomjd. In one of her latest posts she gives a narrative of a personal experience she had in court. Buffaloe gives an introspective account of this moment in her life as not only a defense attorney, but also as a Black female. She points out the existence of racial disparities among lawyers and other court actors as well as their clients.

Stunned at the depth of unprofessionalism, I sat there and listened as questions about my personal life were raised in the name of addressing any potential conflicts that I had with existing clients.  Looking at the court reporter summoned to this meeting, I felt my emotion leave my body as I geared up to play the game once again.  Unfortunately this game had become all too common for me as I spent the past 18 years trying to strike the balance between being a zealous advocate and stomaching the gross disrespect wielded upon me as a criminal defense attorney.  It seemed, in our system of justice, my decision to defend the voiceless meant I was involuntarily inducted into a club that was shunned and ridiculed on a regular basis.

As I sat there I could not help but wonder what this “witch hunt” was really about.  And, quite frankly, if…

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