Monday, April 21

Stupid Lawyer Tricks - Jailing the Innocent

This is a perfect example of how our legal system is broken, not to mention validates many of those lawyer jokes that everyone knows.
Two attorneys for a convicted cop killer had known for 26 years of Logan's innocence but had kept silent because of the attorney-client privilege. Their client, Andrew Wilson, had confessed to them that he shotgunned a security guard to death in January 1982, but he insisted they only reveal his admission after his death. Wilson, who was serving a life sentence for the murders of two Chicago police officers, died in prison of natural causes Nov. 19. - Chicago Tribune
Do you get that? Two lawyers let an innocent man go to jail to protect their cop-killing client. It gets worse:
But one of Logan’s supposed accomplices told his public defender that he’d never seen Logan before – not only that, he said that Wilson had actually killed the guard. That attorney told Wilson’s public defenders, W. Jamie Kunz and Dale Coventry. They pressed Wilson, and he admitted he’d killed the guard.

The dilemma: Kunz and Coventry couldn’t tell anyone of that admission – which could have cleared Logan – without betraying their own client’s confidence. And Wilson, who was already facing the death penalty, wasn’t about to cop to a third murder.

So – honoring attorney-client privilege – Kunz and Coventry stayed mum until Wilson died in prison. In the meantime, the apparently innocent Logan did 26 long years behind bars. - the news tribune
So, these lawyers managed not only to imprison an innocent man, but they also managed to keep their client from being executed, a fate he would more likely have faced had he been charged with this third murder. One party not being targeted in the news at he moment is the Government of Illinois and the City of Chicago, which for some unknown reason both decided that this man, convicted of killing two policemen, was not worthy of receiving the death penalty. If he had, this innocent man would have probably been released shortly after the execution, many years earlier instead of waiting for this man to die of old age.

Sure, there is this 'ethics dilemma' but how ethical is it to know that you are directly responsible for preventing the release of an innocent man? My first thought was that you either attempt to disclose the information anonymously or just outright break your client's trust, because he really doesn't deserve it, at least after he is convicted of the other crimes he is known to have committed. Hell, they could have pushed their client to admit to the crime, and could have pushed the court to not push for the death penalty had he confessed to this last murder.
A public defender does have what might be called the kamikaze option. Let personal ethics trump legal ethics: Violate the privilege, betray the secret and take the consequences from the bar association.

It might end your career and create a small tremor in the justice system. It also might make it easier to face yourself in the mirror the rest of your life. - the news tribune
Well, they didn't appear to do anything other then complete a document explaining the injustice, just in case they happened to die before their client, which also apparently beaks their responsibility to the client-attorney privilege in their eyes. That unfortunately, is not good enough for our society. We are all adults and should be able to make the best decisions to improve society for all of us, especially the unjustly imprisoned. With that in mind, the law itself does not have to change, but more-so the culture of the attorneys who somehow feel that they are removed from the actions of their clients. They are not, as they act as the spokespersons for their clients.

In the maritime world, there is Rule 2 of the Navigation Rules, commonly known as the 'Rules of the Road'. The rule is appropriately titled

(a) Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master, or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case.

(b) In construing and complying with these Rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these Rules necessary to avoid immediate danger. - US Coast Guard
You see, the navigation rules require you to deviate from the rules if following he rules will not solve the problem at hand. Just as important, Rule 2 eliminates the excuse that you wee just following the rules. That is not an accepted excuse. I would like to think that our legal system in general operates under the same common sense attitude. Unfortunately, it does not appear to, especially given the number of known criminals who should be behind bars, or on death row awaiting an impending execution date, but are not.

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