Tuesday, October 18, 2005

On Virginia lawyers and the death penalty

The Washington Post reports here that a gang of mostly members of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association wrote a protest to the Kilgore campaign about what's wrong with using the fact that Kaine or somebody in his firm represented somebody in a capital murder case as evidence of anything.

After all, everybody charged with a felony is entitled to a lawyer, the Constitution says so, in your Sixth Amendment. I agree with Bob Hall and the VTLA gang - you don't go around bashing lawyers because they fulfilled their professional obligation to provide legal services extends to making sure that a criminal defendant's constitutional right to counsel is realized. I would think that even death penalty supporters would want capital murder defendants to have good lawyers - because in theory (and hopefully in practice), no one can lawfully be sentenced to death, who was not represented at trial by competent, zealous, thoughtful counsel.

Furthermore, although the article doesn't say this, there's no need to bash lawyers, especially not court-appointed ones, to make the point that Kaine and Kilgore are as far apart as can be on the Death Penalty. Unlike judges, who must apply the law regardless of personal views, by contrast, the law imposes no limitation on what the Governor may do in considering a clemency petition for a deathrow inmate. If Tim Kaine says he is opposed to the death penalty, for whatever reason, and you think the death penalty is important, then you want him working as a lawyer and not as Governor.

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