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Foot Noted

footnote.jpgThe fun stuff truly is in the footnotes:

It is an impressive show of public service when twelve prominent and distinguished current and former law professors of well-respected schools are able to amass their collective wisdom in the course of only several days to provide their legal expertise to the Court on behalf of a criminal defendant. The Court trusts that this is a reflection of these eminent academics’ willingness in the future to step to the plate and provide like assistance in cases involving any of the numerous litigants, both in this Court and throughout the courts of our nation, who lack the financial means to fully and properly articulate the merits of their legal positions even in instances where failure to do so could result in monetary penalties, incarceration, or worse. The Court will certainly not hesitate to call for such assistance from these luminaries, as necessary in the interests of justice and equity, whenever similar questions arise in the cases that come before it.

Emptywheel is absolutely correct that Judge Walton’s footnote indicates a certain level of disgust with the “regular rules oughtn’t apply to our crowd” mentality that oozes from the Free Scooter brigades. But I think it may be more than that.

Judge Walton, lives in the real world of day in and day out criminal sentencing, application of stringent sentencing guidelines provisions enacted by elected officials who use them as a means to look “tough on crime” whether or not they make a dent in the actual commissions of crimes or the prevention thereof. There are a whole host of issues that truly need to be addressed in that world: underlying reasons for criminal activity, drug use prevention and rehab, application of funds and resources to early childhood prevention versus on the back end for adults who are less likely to be rehabilitated, and on and on and on. Helping a man who had millions of dollars in a defense fund, was able to hire a squadron of attorneys to argue his case — and still lost when the evidence was fully reviewed by a jury of his peers? Seems like the power crowd is set on stunned, doesn’t it?

That the amicus brief folks from the Free Scooter PR campaign brigade would wade into a case of a privileged government official who betrayed the public’s trust and flouted a legal system in which he worked for years has to irk Judge Walton and ought to irk every other person who has ever worked to uphold the rule of law. Just look at the list of folks who signed off on the brief: Robert Bork, Vikram Amar, Randy Barnett, Alan Dershowitz, Viet Dinh, Douglas Kmiec, Gary Lawson, Earl Maltz, Thomas Merrill, Robert Nagel, Richard Parker, and Robert Pushaw.

Wonder how many of these fine folks are on the criminal appointments list in their jurisdictions? Not just for the high profile, get your name in the papers sorts of cases, but the nitty gritty make a difference to a lot of folks who could use it sorts. And, after this footnote of Judge Walton’s, I wonder how many of them will be soon, since federal and state judges can often draft attorneys within their jurisdictions to do such representation when there aren’t enough attorneys to go around for indigent defendants? I mean, after this display of helping out a convicted felon, surely they wouldn’t have any objection to helping out a few more who could use a hand and couldn’t afford such a pricey defense the first go around…I’m just saying.

Good for Judge Walton.

And for what it is worth, Carol Leonnig is a sweetheart of a journalist, and I wish she got to write more pieces like this one. Good on ya, Carol! (H/T to Effwit for the heads up on this piece.)

(Photo of a foot note via EssG.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com