Thursday, June 26, 2008

On Fagan

Well, now I think the conservative side of the blog world is going a bit overboard taking Mr. Fagan out of context. And I'm probably going to piss a few of them off over this. So before I go on, let me say I disagree with Fagan on the extent of a lawyer's duty, and that I don't think much of him because of it. But it doesn't do the conservative cause any good when we get overly rabid about something like this. We're supposed to be the rational ones.

Agree or disagree with Fagan, I interpreted what he said using the rhetorical "I" -- ie, he was pretending to speak for all trial lawyers, trying to scare people into voting against Jessica's Law by painting an ugly picture of how it would be bad for children because they'd be berated by defense lawyers. When he said "it's not because I'm a nice guy" he meant he wasn't doing it because he liked his client -- he was saying it's not a defense lawyer's job to be a nice guy. It's a defense lawyer's job to be an asshole. He was saying he would be duty bound to do it. I know what he's driving at. But I don't agree with him, and I'll bet lots of other trial lawyers disagree with him as well.

I don't think that's what a decent trial lawyer would do (I know, some of you are going to scream "oxymoron", but come on. Be fair. They exist). He's right -- some would. Maybe even he himself.

I think he's wrong. His hyperbole was shocking. Poorly stated. Overboard.

Now... if he really didn't mean "I" in the rhetorical sense ... then he is a piece of pond scum. But I'll give the benefit of the doubt first. He was making an impassioned arguement that Jessica's Law would backfire on kids because lawyers -- presumably lawyers like him, would feel duty bound to destroy the witness's credibility and therefore psyche. Presumably, he doesn't want the law passed so that children will be protected from lawyers who believe what he does about the duty of a lawyer.

In the end, it is important to preserve the presumption of innocence of the defendant at a trial. People can be falsely accused, even by children. Accusers need to be vetted. But you don't have to "rip them apart" and make sure they throw up and can't sleep. If the kid's telling the truth, it shouldn't add significantly to the trauma. If the kid's lying, that's when I think he or she ought to have trouble sleeping. But that would be a trauma of conscience at that point.

Ideally, I don't really believe in mandatory sentencing for anything. That's what a "Judge" is supposed to do. "Judge" what the circumstances are and what the sentence should be should the defendant be found guilty. This is why we need Judges with good Judgement.

Now of course we have judges bestowing sweeping rights upon essentially prisoners of war to enter our civillian legal system (which our own soldiers don't have a right to), and judges using poor judgement all over the place and this is what leads movements to ask for mandatory sentencing on certain things. I don't have a good answer.

Which leads me to this: Who you vote for matters. If the Democrats win -- even if they lose the White House -- if they gain seats in Congress, we're going to get more federal judges with progressive mindsets. That's a fact. I guaran-damn-tee it. If Republicans can gain back a majority and John McCain wins the White House, we have a better chance of getting constructionalist judges rather than activist ones.

This is a big deal. Conservatives who are unhappy with McCain, think about this before you sit on your hands this November.

Liberals who are liberals because they like fluffy bunnies but haven't really thought a lot about how the system is supposed to work? Think about it before you pull the lever for the donks. If you're not sure, please sit on your hands. Don't "Rock the Vote".

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