"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hillary for the Defense

From Prof. Berman's blawg, a Hillary story illustrating 1) Her "it takes a village" hypocrisy; and 2) why I'm glad I don't do defense work:
In 1975, a 27-year-old Hillary Rodham, acting as a court-appointed attorney, attacked the credibility of a 12-year-old girl in mounting an aggressive defense for an indigent client accused of rape in Arkansas — using her child development background to help the defendant....
In her 2003 autobiography "Living History," Clinton writes that she initially balked at the assignment, but eventually secured a lenient plea deal for Taylor after a New York-based forensics expert she hired "cast doubt on the evidentiary value of semen and blood samples collected by the sheriff's office."...
"She was vigorously advocating for her client. What she did was appropriate," said
Andrew Schepard, director of Hofstra Law School's Center for Children, Families and the Law. "He was lucky to have her as a lawyer ... In terms of what's good for the little girl? It would have been hell on the victim. But that wasn't Hillary's problem."...
Rodham, records show, questioned the sixth grader's honesty and claimed she had made false accusations in the past. She implied that the girl often fantasized and sought out "older men" like Taylor....

The rest of the story of Clinton's brief foray into defense work here, with the usual disclaimers that working hard to destroy a young girl's reputation without any evidence to back it up is just "part of the job" for a good defense attorney.

Indeed, if the young victim were lying, one wonders why Hillary agreed to plead her client to "unlawful fondling of a minor under the age of 14, which carried a five-year sentence."

And yes, I understand that even a child rapist is entitled to present a defense, but there are other ways to present a defense than by trying to destroy a complaining witness, especially where exoneration is not the goal, but conviction on a lesser charge, as in Hillary's case. All-out destruction of the "opponent" is not often, if ever, required for effective representation. I've seen truly competent attorneys who manage to retain their moral integrity while carrying out their legal duty to their clients.

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