Monday, April 27, 2009

First, kill all the lawyers

It is fashionable to despise lawyers. Lawyers defend the lowest of the low, the rapists and murderers who, well, rape and murder. They devise despicable defenses for their clients' behavior -- "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury! The lady in question did in fact solicit sex, nay, demanded sex from my client, and solicited, nay, demanded that it be rough sex, and all he did was indulge her very requests! So the fact that this woman appears in this photo bloody and bruised and raw in the nether parts, well, it was her very request that my client do this to her!" On the other side of the coin, lawyers (as prosecutors) send innocent men to death row and oversee a prosecutorial system that is so efficient in sending men and women to prison that the United States has more people behind bars than any other nation on Earth -- even more than dictatorial hellholes like Cuba and China, and half of whom are convicted of "crimes" that constitute nothing more than consensual commerce between private parties, not anything of violence.

But the thing is, that's a lawyer's job. Even the vilest of criminals is warranted a defense according to the Constitution of the United States of America. Yes, it is vile that a lawyer can stand before a jury and say "she asked for it" when a woman was clearly brutally raped. But that is what our Constitution calls for him to do: to serve the interests of his client as best he can, even if it requires him to make an argument which is vile and offensive. It is assumed that the prosecution will be equally aggressive at making arguments painting his client as vile and evil. It is the job of the court, of the jury or the judge, not of the defense attorney, to decide whether his client is innocent or guilty. It is the defense attorney's job to make whatever argument will best serve the cause of getting his client off, even if that argument is as vile as "she asked for it".

Which is why I am concerned about some of the loony lefties going after Bush's lawyers, the ones who wrote the legal papers that Bush waved around in defense of torturing prisoners. Yes, John Yoo is not going to win "Humanitarian of the Year" awards, just as the lawyer arguing "she asked for it" in a rape case is not going to win "Humanitarian of the Year" awards. But he was tasked with writing a legal paper defending the administration's torture policies, and he properly served his client. If he had advocated torture within the Bush Administration that would be one thing. But he didn't. He merely wrote a legal paper after the fact to defend his client, the office of the President of the United States of America. It is his client, President Bush and President Bush's subordinates, who decided to torture -- not John Yoo.

If we are to be a nation of laws rather than a nation of thugs with guns, we need lawyers. Criminalizing the practice of law is not conducive to rule of law, and I cannot see how any sane sensible person can encourage it. The end result of that sort of nonsense is inevitably rule of gun, which tends to result in the most vile and evil people imaginable being in charge, those who have least compunctions about murdering other people. If we are to have rule of law we must have lawyers. Alas, but true.

-- Badtux the Law Penguin


  1. My frosty friend -

    I can't go with you on this one. But I want to extend your sleazy lawyer defending a rapist similie. Yoo's role would be like a lawyer contacted by the client BEFORE the crime asking for advice how to commit the crime AND leave a legal defense that would best allow the crime without being held accountable for it.

    Now I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that if a lawyer is consulted in advance of the rape, with specific questions about what the perp intends to do, and questions about the definition of mahem - how much can I torture the victim and keep it a simple rape charge? - At some point the lawyer becomes an accesory before the fact.

  2. "On the other side of the coin, lawyers (as prosecutors) send innocent men to death row and oversee a prosecutorial system that is so efficient in sending men and women to prison that the United States has more people behind bars than any other nation on Earth"I wonder how many of them were wealthy?

    I also wonder if any "actionable intelligence" might be gotten out of those who signed off on those "interrogation techniques?"

  3. As T-Doug points out, the problem with your argument is that Yoo, et al were not defending anyone. They were asked to provide legal analysis with respect to the applicable laws, which they did not do. Instead, they conveniently tailored such "advice" to make torture appear legit, both ignoring legal precedent in the US and abroad, as well as ignoring treaty obligations which bind ALL citizens pursuant to the Constitution (see the Supremacy Clause).

    At a minimum, these former legal advisers should be disbarred for shirking their professional responsibilities.

  4. As important as it is to have an advocate, I have to agree with TampaDoug. Most people resign when asked to do crap like this, and Addington, Yoo and others (if they actually had souls) should have quit in protest.

    But had the offenses already taken place, they should have defended their clients by any and all means, but only after the fact.

  5. This is a fine defense for Alberto Gonzales, who was Counsel to the President, but Yoo, Bybee, et al. worked in the DoJ and the People were their client.

    Their job was to present an accurate reading of the existing law, not to advocate for the President. That was Gonzales's job.

    Bryan at Why Now?

  6. I have to agree with everyone who said this is not going after a defense attorney. If any of these people were to be prosecuted they would have lawyers and the lawyers would properly mount an aggressive defense. To do less would be malpractice, but that's not what this was. This was before the fact and lawyers are not supposed to promote illegal activity.


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