"Mistrust those in whom the urge to punish is strong." Friedrich Nietzche

"Any and all non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior that does not physically harm other people or their property or directly and immediately endangers same, that does not disturb the peace or create a public nuisance, and that is done in private, especially on private property, is the inalienable right of all adults. In a truly free and liberty-loving society, ruled by a secular government, no laws should be passed to prohibit such behavior. Any laws now existing that are contrary to the above definition of inalienable rights are violations of the rights of adults and should be made null and void." D. M. Mitchell (from The Myth of Inalienable Rights, at: http://dowehaverights.blogspot.com/)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A good lawyer?

It is my strongly held belief that there is no such thing as a "good" lawyer. You can have a competent lawyer or an incompetent lawyer, but all of them are no damned good.

Too strong of a statement? Perhaps. I'm sure that there are some good people who are lawyers--that is they are trying to do the right thing (whatever that is)--and who are competent. But many, if not most lawyers, including prosecutors, are more concerned with their image, their egos, their win and loss ratios than with justice or the defendants and victims.

Again, too strong of a statement? I don't think so. Consider the Innocence Project. It's an organization dedicated to getting innocent people who have been wrongly convicted out of jail. To date, using DNA evidence they have gotten 273 innocent people released. Of those 273, 17 were on death row. (Imagine being innocent and being put to death. How many times has that happened?)On average those 273 people spent 13 years in prison for something they didn't do.

How could that happen, here, in America? They are a plethora of reasons but much of it comes back to the police, and the prosecutors in charge of the cases: Eyewitness accounts are known to be unreliable; using unproven or improperly conducted forensic techniques; false confessions due to coercion, fear of worse punishment, or mental problems; the police and prosecutors wanting to clear cases and focusing on conviction, not the search for truth and justice; paid informants; and overworked, under prepared, or just plain incompetent defense lawyers, mostly public defenders.

The rich, of course, can afford the best in defense lawyers, but that just makes those lawyers competent, but not necessarily good.

The epitome of how a lawyer thinks is President Clinton's statement in the Monica Lewinsky investigation about "what the meaning of is, is." Wow! If that didn't ring all kinds of warning bells in your brain, then you were either brain dead or a really strong Clinton/Democrat supporter.

Lawyers are taught to parse sentences--basically defining each element of a sentence, not necessarily in context to the whole. The most competent lawyers are able to take the most damning testimony and whittle it away to nearly nothing. Or, conversely, they can take the most insignificant uttering and make the proverbial molehill into a mountain.

Do lawyers do that for truth, justice, and the American way? No. They do it to win, pure and simple. Prosecutors getting convictions, right or wrong; defense attorneys getting people set free, right or wrong; it's all the same. They are either competent at what they do or they are incompetent.

So if you need an attorney, don't look for a good one. Look for a competent one.

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