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Hullabaloo


Thursday, April 24, 2014

 
The next time a Republican gets on the wrong side of the law, tell him to call a plumber

by digby

So we're finally coming to the point where political candidates feel free to run ads against a rival who was a criminal defense lawyer --- for the crime of defending criminals. This ad from Chris Christie's Republican Governor's Association comes right out and says it:


So much for that "you have a right to an attorney" balderdash. This follows the recent similar campaign against Debo Adegbile, resulting in his being rejected by the Senate for the civil rights post at the Department of Justice, a truly shameful episode. (Cowardly Democrats participated as well...)

And let's not forget that the government itself has been "sending a message" by jailing criminal defense lawyers (rather than the usual less onerous sanctions) for allegedly aiding their terrorist clients and has just last week been revealed to be infiltrating the defense team in one of the Guantanamo trials.

All of this is to say that we are seeing a rapid degradation of our traditional respect for the concept that everyone accused of a crime has a right to a lawyer and certain protections under the constitution. I know that there has always been tension among our various governmental functions and that public opinion often believes that criminals are routinely freed on "technicalities" used by unscrupulous lawyers. But let's just say that if any one of us found ourselves on the wrong side of the police we'd be very, very grateful for the fact that our system provides us with a right to legal representation. And don't think it couldn't happen --- any of you could have an accident or be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

To allow this to become a disqualification for elective office and encourage people to believe there's something shameful about taking on that often thankless role in our system of justice is a huge mistake. If it becomes a common political cudgel it would mean the end of defense lawyers running for office, even judgeships, and there will be no more pro-bono work of the kind Chief Justice John Roberts did early in his career when he defended an accused murderer. Any ambitious young lawyer would assiduously avoid any possible associations with accused criminals and the government at all levels would be even more overloaded with prosecutors than it already is.

If anybody has the mistaken idea that a government full of prosecutors funded by billionaire patrons spells "liberty" for the people they need to think about it a little bit more.


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