Patterico's Pontifications


Jonathan Adler: Don’t Criticize Democrat Candidate for Having Been a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:54 pm

Jonathan Adler:

I don’t know South Carolina state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, and I doubt I’d support him for governor if I were a resident of the Palmetto State. I do know, however, that the Republican Governors Association’s latest ad attacking Sheheen for having worked as a criminal defense attorney is contemptible.

The ad (below) attacks “trial lawyer” Sheheen because he ”made money off criminals” and represented those “charged with violent acts,” child and sex abuse. I assume the accusations are true, but they are irrelevant. Even those accused of the most heinous crimes deserve a defense, and our legal system depends upon the willingness of capable attorneys to defend even the most unpopular or unpalatable defendants.

I agree with Adler. I understand that the job of criminal defense attorney is not popular with the public, but defending criminals is what they do — and it’s necessary. Making money for such actions is fine. Getting good results, if done in an ethical manner, is fine. It’s their job.

Don’t criticize a guy for doing a necessary job.

P.S. I don’t 100% agree with Adler here:

The RGA is not the first to attack lawyers for having agreed to represent unpopular clients or causes, but that hardly makes the ad any more defensible. Others on the right wrongly went after attorneys who agreed to represent Gitmo detainees. Folks on the left assailed Bush nominees who represented corporations or defended administration policies and attacked King & Spalding and Paul Clement for agreeing to defend DOMA. Some members of Congress are also currently attacking district court nominee Mark Cohen because he helped defend Georgia’s voter ID law. All such attacks are misguided.

If you are attacking a Gitmo lawyer simply because he or she is a Gitmo lawyer, I don’t agree with your attack. BUT…as See Dubya once pointed out, a lot of big firms flocked to give pro bono counsel to Gitmo detainees, but somehow a U.S. soldier who was going to be prosecuted by Italy for murder in a clear friendly fire accident couldn’t get anyone to be pro bono counsel. (The prosecution never went through.) I think that it’s fair to wonder why — and situations like this crop up all the time, where helping someone in a lefty cause brings bevies and covens of lawyers while other worthy causes do not.

But getting back to the main point: Republicans, don’t get on someone’s case for being a criminal defense lawyer. Please.

11 Responses to “Jonathan Adler: Don’t Criticize Democrat Candidate for Having Been a Criminal Defense Lawyer”

  1. you go after a fascist democrat whore with the army you got is my understanding

    (this is not something that’s ever been captured on film)

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  2. But getting back to the main point: Republicans, don’t get on someone’s case for being a criminal defense lawyer. Please.

    Fair enough, but how about someone like Debo Adegbile? I can understand that every defendant is entitled to a defender, but how about someone who inserts himself into a trendy left-wing cause, well after the accused and convicted has had his day in court, and knowing that elements of the defense are conspiring to create a circus atmosphere and pursuing a strategy of sullying the reputation of the deceased (see here and here)? The left has every reason to try to conflate legal support for the defendant with political support of the defendant, but hopefully our side will have the guts to call it out as we did with Adegbile.

    JVW (9946b6)

  3. I must be an unusual Republican. I never get on anyone’s case for having been a defense attorney. In fact it’s a key stone in my republicanism. I actually take that “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” verbage in the Declaration of Independence seriously. Along with the Bill of Rights.

    My instinctual move, as a conservative in this country, is to preserve the gains of the revolution. Had I been an attorney, I’d have been a defense attorney. And I would make the government prove every quarter inch of its case. Because we’re talking someone’e life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

    No offense to Pat. He’s performing a valuable service removing miscreants from circulation so I don’t have to shoot them in my living room. Which would be hard on the living room considering I just repainted and put in new drapes and a laminate floor and, I suspect, pretty rough on the miscreant as well.

    In fact, I don’t see how any good prosecutor could take offense at the fact that before they put someone away, I’d first require that they and the police first do their job. Thoroughly and honestly.

    Don’t expect to see me at any “Free Mumia!” events or s*** of that nature. That’s different.

    Steve57 (525198)

  4. Criminal defense lawyers are pretty nice guys, they are not any more morally flawed than any other lawyer, but they tend to be on the dumb side. You might not want to put them in charge of managing the public purse. 😉

    nk (dbc370)

  5. Didn’t Shaheen use the Will Folks carp against Haley, last time,

    narciso (3fec35)

  6. It is almost universal that those who have a “thing” about defense attorneys will lose that thing shortly after they find out they need a defense attorney.

    We know we would never do anything that would require hiring a defense attorney, but you don’t really have to do anything to become the wrong guy; it just seems to happen.

    … and what S-57 said.

    Gramps, the original (3bbad3)

  7. They too easily conflate attorney’s who work in criminal defense, and what are affectionately known as “plaintiff’s lawyers”; aka, Whiplash Attorney’s.
    I don’t think you can (generally) say anything that is too bad about the “Plaintiff’s Bar” – not after what we have seen in the manner of manufactured class-action cases.

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  8. Comment by nk (dbc370) — 4/29/2014 @ 6:55 am

    That puts paid to your public office ambitions.

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  9. I agree. A man has to know his limitations.

    nk (dbc370)

  10. Sorry General but No, defense attorneys choose their profession, are very well paid for it, and are stuck with the smell that adheres to them as a result.

    Mark Johnson (df77f2)

  11. I agree–though some of the tactics that some modern defense attorneys use to prop up their clients (Leslie Abramson and her public lauding of the loathsome Menendez brothers comes to mind here) are not beyond criticism, nor should they be. But just being a criminal defense attorney? Yeah, it’s a necessary job and one we should be glad people are willing to do.

    M. Scott Eiland (0f4188)

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