This election cycle has generated some of the most cringe-worthy political moments in American history. There have been so many low points, that you may have missed the abusive political attacks on Hillary Clinton and vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine for criminal defense work they did decades ago while they were private attorneys, before they ran for office. Regardless of your political regard for these two candidates, I hope we can all agree that these attacks are out of bounds.
Criminal defense lawyers are essential to our system of justice and to the protection of our constitutional rights. Their work should be celebrated, not castigated.
As a people, we lionize the brave and principled legal advocacy of legendary American revolutionaries like John Adams, who represented the British soldiers accused of carrying out the Boston Massacre. We idealize iconic literary characters like Atticus Finch, lawyer-protagonist of Harper Lee’s seminal American novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
The nation’s criminal defense lawyers are the Adamses and the real-life Finches of this day and age. Without them the Sixth Amendment to our federal Constitution –– which establishes the right to a lawyer for all those who stand accused of a criminal offense (no matter how heinous) –– would not be worth the paper it was written on. All Iowans, regardless of our political persuasions, should lift them up and be thankful that they are “on the case.”
— Brad Lint, executive director, Iowa Association for Justice