The above title is a quote that Mr. Gideon has inscribed on his headstone. It is a quote taken from a letter he wrote to his lawyer, wherein he successfully advocated for change in the American Criminal Justice System. In doing so, he made sure, we all have criminal defense legal representation, when the weight of the government presses down against us.
Mr. Gideon made sure, that in theory, we all get representation to navigate the complex criminal legal system. This is important because in the eyes of criminal defense attorneys We, as criminal defense lawyers, are forced to deal with some of the lowest people on earth, people who have no sense of right and wrong, people who will lie in court to get what they want, people who do not care who gets hurt in the process. It is our job – our sworn duty – as criminal defense lawyers, to protect our clients from those people.”
In order to do our sworn duty (which admittedly some, probably, don’t care about), we take on some cases- which at first glance seem nasty to the general public- cases with shock the public with photos and reports of perpetration and penetration. All human life, is worth something, has some redeeming quality. As Brian Stevenson said: “we’re all better than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” The reason I continue to espouse this ideal and opinion on this blog is because I think it’s important for the community we know. Often, criminal defense attorneys don’t get to explain themselves, or they are seen as acquiescing to the behavior that is alleged in the charging document. That’s not necessarily true. Most criminal defense attorneys walk to the bar to defend their client because of their belief in zealous representation and a commitment to the Constitution. In order to zealously advocate for my client(s), sometimes I must advocate for theories I don’t believe in, and sometimes I advocate for things I don’t believe in, but in the underlying cause I believe one thing and that one this IS: [the] presumption of innocence.
This presumption is important because it underlies our criminal justice system. You are innocent until the government proves you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That doesn’t mean you are innocent, that means the government needs to be pushed to proved that everything they did was Constitutional, and in doing so they convinced people beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did it. This is why any reporting party of any reported crime should be viewed with skepticism. It’s why we should never judge the accused, but instead judge the accuser, because it’s a slippery slope. If all it took for a prison sentence were mere words, well then, we’d all be in prison.
We should stand up for those we thought that were right. We should stand up for our criminally accused, and view with a healthy skepticism the government who alleges those crimes. They have been known to commit enough violations for the sake of “ego” that we even now have Brady violations.