Left assails Fifth Circuit judges based on clients they repped decades ago

by Walter Olson on August 2, 2010

Hello? Guantanamo? It’s not as if you’d expect any sort of consistent policy on these matters from the imaginatively named Alliance for Justice. But it’s still strange that they’d open the door to future attacks on their own favored judicial nominees based on clients they represented long before reaching the bench. [Joel Cohen and Katherine Helm/Law.com, NLJ] More: John Steele at Legal Ethics Forum takes a different view, and I comment.

{ 2 comments }

1 Aaron Worthing 08.02.10 at 12:14 pm

well, those are all valid points, but i also will say this.

criminal defense attorneys, as a rule, are incapable of supporting any prosecution of anyone for anything. That includes even for the violation of a criminal rights. There is something that attracts people to that role that just makes them incapable of separating their work from their opinions.

Any time i watch a legal discussion show, and they introduce the defense attorney, i go “now we are in for it.” by comparison, the prosectutors are very good about seeing both sides, but not so much the defense attorneys.

fwiw.

2 William Nuesslein 08.04.10 at 10:02 am

Some prosecutors may see both sides of a question, but Nancy Grace doesn’t. Those who did the day-care center cases didn’t. Those who did witch trials of Martha Stewart and Jeffery Skilling didn’t. And let’s not forget Mr. Nifong of the Duke case.

A defense attorney is supposed to get the best deal for his client, which client is often guilty. Prosecutors are supposed to work for truth. In the Martha Stewart case, the prosecutor deliberately invited the jury to start with an assumption of guilt about insider trading to have a motive to lie to FBI agents. Almost everybody who has heard of the case believes that Ms. Stewart was guilty of insider trading. When I tell people that she wasn’t accused of insider trading, they ask why she was tried.

In Mr. Skilling’s case, “he knew”. But had he shared his knowledge that Enron’s stock was worthless, the stock would then be worthless, and he would have been sued many times over. That’s true of almost all cases like his. The crimes come from our instinctive belief in devils and make no logical sense. It’s a shame that Chief Justice Roberts did not sign on to Ms. Sotomayor’s excellent opinion (Mr. Breyer did!). Chief Justice Roberts broke my heart on this case, although he did recognize that “honest services” was a ticket to tyranny.

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