In a post so perfect I couldn’t possibly add anything, Matt writes:
If I lived in Texas, I would have had a little more background when I read this post by Murray Newman. I was skeptical about what he perceived as a double standard even reading it without context, but that by itself didn’t seem worth a post on my part. When a prosecutor gets charged and defense lawyers don’t just rant about the presumption of innocence, I hardly see it as cause for concern. We’re still human, right? Defense attorneys live in the same world as everybody else, don’t we?
. . .
In a post so perfect I couldn’t possibly add anything, Mark Bennett at Defending People explained why there is no double standard. Lack of contradiction isn’t the only thing that matters, however. There are additional, fundamental reasons why Murray’s post misses the mark, and here’s the passage that bothers me most:
The irony of the situation is stunning, because as members of the Defense Bar celebrate and rebroadcast the arrest of a prosecutor or police officer, they are abandoning the most sacred principles of the Constitution.
First, they are presuming them guilty.
And second, they are relishing in the idea that they should be treated more harshly under the law because they are different.
That last part is where I get the wind knocked out of me. It’s also where circumspection ties in. I’m going to be far less artful in my approach here than the others I cite, as the gravity of the situation as I see it depends on the full picture being crystal clear.
Here’s what’s happening, for the less-than-attentive: a prosecutor, one who once argued for a life sentence in a drunk-driving case, was just arrested for DUI. This comment from him in that life-sentence DUI case, which Mark quotes to start his post, is absolutely stunning in light of his current predicament:
Prosecutors Lester Blizzard and Kayla Allen, however, asked Ellisor for life sentences to send a message to anyone who would drive while intoxicated.
“To send a message to anyone who would drive while intoxicated.” If I could emphasize that more, I would. Should I put it in all caps too? “TO SEND A MESSAGE TO ANYONE WHO WOULD DRIVE WHILE INTOXICATED.”
Maybe they were misquoted, as news outlets rarely get it right with criminal cases, but that doesn’t matter much. Presumption of innocence and the fundamental role of a criminal defense attorney aside, this just isn’t a double standard in the traditional sense. This is something far greater. This is the kind of irony from which great tragedies are written. Mark does it justice, but I just can’t get over how amazing this is.
If this is indeed a double standard, it’s justified one, if such a thing exists. This prosecutor is different. I do indeed relish the idea that this man, if guilty, should be treated more harshly under the law. I relish that because this man, if guilty, is different. I’m also saddened because cruelty and ignorance, when applied to one who himself has sought institutional cruelty and ignorance, is no less cruel or ignorant. I really am overwhelmed by this situation, and I’m having trouble grasping how Murray’s response can possibly make sense.