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.