Rick Kammen ’68 balancing the scales of justice
Lawyers and the law are at the very foundation of American society. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration
of Independence, 35 were lawyers. Of the 55 framers of the Constitution, 32 were lawyers.
Numerous Ripon alumni have made the law their career. Every day, they weigh the balances of justice, equality and liberty and how these principles apply to various aspects of our lives. Here,some of those attorneys discuss their lives in the halls of justice.
United States law presumes that accused people are innocent until proven guilty, and every person – no matter how heinous the accusations against them may be – is a human being, says criminal defense lawyer Rick Kammen ’68 of Indianapolis,Ind.
“So the first thing I do when I become involved in a case is to try to evaluate what the quality of the evidence is against this person. People who are vilified in the newspapers sometimes turn out to be innocent,” or sometimes the evidence is not satisfactory, Kammen says. “The goal is to find a way – ethically and legally within the bounds of what’s appropriate –to win the case it can possibly be done. That’s the way the system is supposed to work.”be a healing aspect within the court process. “People have their day in court and feel like they were listened to, heard and treated fairly,” he says. “I think that is very important. In many respects, lawyers provide the lubrication that makes society work.”
Kammen credits Ripon’s liberal arts education with setting the foundation for his life’s work.
“Ripon was very helpful to me,” he says. “It was small,I had the opportunity to do things I would never have had the opportunity to do at a bigger school – freshmen football, sports broadcaster. Giving me a degree of self-confidence was pretty significant.