This piece was written by my son, Cole, as I was starting up my LAW Access Education LLC practice with the support of my cohort in a program called Legal Entrepreneurs for Justice. Cole is now officially an adult at 19 and is studying photography and archaeology. He was 17 at the time he wrote this and he gave me permission and his trust to use his writing however I thought it could be useful. If you are lucky enough to know Cole you may already realize that he is a storyteller with an incredibly generous and kind soul and that he also has a wonderful way with words. Cole also trusted me to use his picture of a sunflower that he made in the 4th grade. This original picture has hung in my office or home since 2014 where it has provided me with a daily glimpse of bright light and hope and a reminder of his innate inner strength and optimism. It has been used as the catalyst for a few other projects and actions myself and my husband (and other individuals and organizations) have taken in an effort to spark a bit of Cole’s gift into the world around us. Cole and I hope that you enjoy both of his works featured in this post.
Peace and love.
Lisa and Cole
“In Japan, lapel badges hold special meanings relating to law. These badges are called kisho. Most renowned are the badges worn by trial lawyers (bengoshi), and the one we will focus on today is the one used for defense attorneys. This badge is a 16 petaled sunflower with an imprint of scales in the center. The scales are an obvious symbol of law and justice, but the sunflower here is what we will be focusing on. I will get to that in a bit.
Legal badges in Japan are lent to lawyers by the JFBA, or the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. These badges are an easy way to recognize lawyers, and are taken very seriously. They are to be interchanged with anyone and are to be returned if the lawyer in question is disbarred, convicted of a crime, bankrupt, or dead. Badges are easily lost in things like laundry, and are a pain to replace as each badge is stamped with a specific serial number. These badges are taken as identification for a lawyer, contrasting us in the United States who don’t get fancy cool badges.
There are two types of trial badges, the sunflower and the chrysanthemum. The chrysanthemum is known as the Imperial Seal of Japan, and is representative of a prosecutor’s status as a government official. The prosecutor’s badge known as shuso retsujitsu, has white petals, golden leaves and a red jewel in the center representing the sun. The name means “autumn frost, scorching sunlight”, and it symbolises the poignance of punishment and the upholding of the principles expected of a prosecutor.
But the sunflower I write about today is a perfect contrast to this extravagant government badge. This type of badge holds no allegiance to the government, only the law. The sunflower petals represent the pursuit and celebration of justice and liberty, and the scale in the center of the badge refers to fairness and equality. Both the trial lawyer and the prosecutor both pursue justice but are there to promote different principles of it, and ideally should reach a fair conclusion.
Hope and recovery from strife is also part of the sunflower, though it does not refer to any sort of legal connotation. Sunflowers have been noted to be able to extract toxic elements from soil, and have been specifically sought after for their ability to remove radiation from soil. Ever since the Chernobyl Incident, the Ukraine has used sunflowers to absorb radioactive elements from the soil. So Japan used sunflowers after their nuclear power plant, Fukushima Daiichi, had a series of core meltdowns and explosions on March 11, 2011. After harvesting the sunflowers they were decomposed, and the radioactivity in the soil was lessened.
Principles like these seem to be present in my mom’s job, so I recommended the sunflower for a symbol, since her job is about justice, fairness, hope and moving on from tragedy. Plus it’s nice and yellow, a sunny color that suits this optimistic view.
I don’t really know how to end this document, but I hope my mom serves you well and does the best she can to help you guys. I don’t think I can do much for you since I’m still in school. But I wish you luck. Have a good day.”
Cole Jackson Tucker, Age 17 (West River Academy High School Student)