2012-10-25 / Editorial

Scattering Seeds

BY JOHN A. MURPHY

Think about it: If the zealous and effective representation of clients accused of crime were a disqualifier for public offi ce, then America would have been deprived of its greatest president.

Abraham Lincoln represented, in a wide-ranging career as a brilliant litigator, people accused of many serious and violent crimes.

At least one candidate for high office is including in his campaign an attack upon his opponent for having worked as a lawyer who defended persons accused of crime.

Although a candidate may have many qualities that recommend them for public office, taking that line of attack against an opponent is not one of them.

Indeed, quite the opposite. Attacking a lawyer for protecting a client’s basic human rights betrays in the attacker a lack of understanding of at least one fundamental principle at the heart of our country’s rule of law: the right of all persons accused of crime to competent and loyal legal representation in confronting that accusation.

Remember, the Founding Fathers declared that such rights were given to us by our Creator and were “unalienable.”

Certainly it is unfair to attempt to smear by association with the client’s alleged crime a lawyer who has provided that representation.

And the use of that tactic is unworthy of a candidate for any office.

Note: A reader of “Scattering Seeds” commented recently that there is no better portrayal of a lawyer who defends a person reviled in his community than the character of Atticus Finch, as played by Gregory Peck in the film version of Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

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