Sunday, June 22, 2014
The main reason that Debo Adegbile is not currently the head of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division is Mumia Abu-Jamal. When Adegbile's nomination came before the Senate in March, he was rejected almost entirely because Adegbile once helped prepare a brief in defense of Abu-Jamal, convicted of murdering a police officer in 1982. In Arkansas, state Supreme Court candidate Tim Cullen faced the political wrath of a law enforcement advocacy group for his 2006 work on an appeal for a man convicted of possessing child pornography. In South Carolina this year, the Republican Governors Association ran the ad below, attacking Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen for having "personally defended dangerous criminals" -- part of his job as a former defense attorney.
The conservative site Washington Free Beacon has another in that vein: surfacing an audio recording in which Hillary Clinton describes her work as a public defender on behalf of a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl.
"She did no more and no less than an attorney is required to do in her representation of her client," said Steven D. Benjamin, the immediate past president of the National Association Criminal Defense Lawyers when The Post reached him by phone. "Had she failed to do that, she would have been guilty of malpractice and she would have been in violation of the legal profession's ethical rules." Benjamin called attacks on criminal defense attorneys -- particularly on public defenders assigned by the state, as Clinton was -- "grossly unfair."
"Public defenders and court-appointed attorneys are the backbone of the criminal justice system," he said. "Without them, the criminal justice system couldn't function."
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