Friday, October 13, 2006

Ohio Politics, Making My Head Hurt

I'm sure we are all sick of the political ads we are bombarded with daily, hourly. I'm ready to vote already! And I don't want to set off a sh*tstorm of controversy, but, one issue is really really bothering me. So, I'm going to talk about.

There is a man running for Ohio Attorney General, named Mark Dann, against an incumbent attorney general, Betty Montgomery. And the ads being run against this man, Mark Dann, have my blood boiling.

Let me say, straight out, I don't know Mark Dann, I don't know anything about Mark Dann - I am neither a supporter nor a detractor of Mark Dann.

But the reason I am mad as hell about these ads, is that the ads say that because Mark Dann is a defense attorney who has defended criminals and child molesters (the ad specifically states that he is a child molester defender, which, I think, is misleading as hell) that he is not fit to be the Attorney General of the State.

Now, he may not be fit to be the Attorney General for other reasons, but it is absolutely UNFORGIVEABLE in my mind to suggest that he is UNFIT because he is a DEFENSE ATTORNEY.

The truth is that any judge can, at any time, assign any attorney practicing in his or her court of jurisdiction to defend an accused criminal. And guess what? THAT ATTORNEY WOULD BE OBLIGATED TO DEFEND THAT PERSON UNLESS HE OR SHE HAD A REALLY GOOD REASON. And that reason would have to be something bigger than "accused criminals give me the skeevy heeby jeebies."

Now, in practice, that almost never happens - judges know which attorneys are accepting court appointments for criminal defense work, and they appoint those lawyers.* But, if the fact remains that if the judge wanted to, the judge could appoint ANY LAWYER.

And the reason for that is, we are SUPPOSED TO BE committed to our SYSTEM OF JUSTICE. And our system of justice demands that every person charged with a serious crime have access to a lawyer - access to one person who is going to be on that person's side. Access to one person who is going to advocate for the accused.

We have this system of justice and we believe it to be the best system of justice on the planet. We do. But, if no attorneys took criminal defense cases, the very foundation of our system would FALL APART.

Maybe I am waving the flag too much here, but, DEFENSE ATTORNEYS are of VITAL IMPORTANCE to OUR DEMOCRACY AS WE KNOW IT.

I am absolutely not kidding about this.

We believe in innocence until guilt is proven. We believe in an adversarial system where the State must prove the bad acts of the accused.

The fact that one is a defense attorney does not imply that one thinks that criminals are good people. It implies that one believes in our system of justice. And that is an honorable thing.

It also implies that the lawyer knows a heck of a lot about criminal law. Guess who needs to know a heck of a lot about criminal law? The Attorney General, that's who. So, while there may be other good and viable reasons why Mark Dann may not be fit to be Attorney General, the fact that he has defended criminals in his career is not one of them.

I'll get off my soapbox now.


* And many young lawyers do this because, um, you have to EAT, and, it's a way to get some actual legal experience at a time when most people won't hire you because you have no actual experience. And being a public defender won't make your rich, but, it probably will keep a roof over your head and food on the table.


Blogger Nicki said...

haha - I almost wrote a strangely similar post today!!! I thought filing absentee would help be rid of some of this but who knew as soon as you register for an absentee ballot you get inundated with 100x more political junk mail???? Politics are SO much fun!

Friday, October 13, 2006 3:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Erin said...

Hi LM, I've been lurking for a while (we're looking at possibly adopting from Vietnam) but I had to post on this topic. My husband is a lawyer and has certainly had some clients that I wish he hadn't had...but like you said, it kept a roof over our head and food on the table when he was starting his practice. I'm probably the only one who realizes just how much it bothered him to represent some of these people, but because it was his job, he did it to the best of his ability. It keeps the legal system going to have people represented by competent attornies, whether they can afford it or not.

That type of campaign is utterly ridiculous. If I were Mark Dann, I would respond that his challenger clearly doesn't deserve to be Attorney General because she clearly doesn't believe in the judicial system as it stands today.

Friday, October 13, 2006 3:19:00 PM  
Blogger Space Mom said...

We have the same problem in MA. In fact, it is the gubenatoral race!
The female who is running has an ad against the African-American who is running saying "A lawyer has a right to defend a cop-killer, but do we want this person to be our governor?"

Um, damn, if he got a cop-killer off of death row and in life imprisonment, Yes, I want him on my side....He's good.

The best dirt they get on him is that he was a good defense lawyer

Friday, October 13, 2006 5:03:00 PM  
Blogger Irshlas said...

Thank you for such an insightful post. My hubby is a 3L and currently in the job hunt. I'm amazed at the ruthless comments I hear from folks on a daily basis about what jobs they think are "appropriate" for him to apply for. I'm thinking..."ahhh, one that pays the bills because food would be nice." I'm always amused at how much people loathe lawyers yet are so quick to make comments like "I'll sue you." Give me break! I, for one, am glad that my husband thinks due process of the law is more important than whether or not he's defending a "good" person. If the law goes out the window for one of us, it goes out the window for all of us. And THAT scares the hell out of me.
I'd like to say, for the record, I'm also glad that not all of the political craziness happens here in the South!

Friday, October 13, 2006 6:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Christina/Mrs. Broccoli Guy said...

Don't you just love politics? bleh. I'm so very sick of all the political ads... really, I know who I'm voting for and those ads do nothing but annoy me. (both sides!)

Monday, October 16, 2006 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger La Turista said...

So I guess T-Bone and I have to give up our dreams of running for Attorney General in Ohio. Oh well.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 5:12:00 PM  
Anonymous SmoothP said...

Well put. I heard this ad for the first time today (and the second time, and the third time...) and it made me immediately decide not to vote for... whoever was running the ad. I didn't know anything about either candidate, including their parties (I've since looked it up), but this kind of smear is unconscionable-- particularly from a candidate for AG.

I also wrote a letter to the Montgomery and Dann campaigns informing both that this ad alone made up my mind-- to vote AGAINST Betty Montgomery.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 4:31:00 PM  

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