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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The South Carolina Bar Association has condemned an ad that brutally attacks Vincent Sheheen, the Democratic candidate for governor in South Carolina, for legal cases he took on during his time as a criminal defense attorney.

The Republican Governors Association released an ad on Monday, saying, “Sheheen defended violent criminals who abused women, and went to work setting them free. So next time Sheheen says he’ll protect women from violent criminals, ask him: What about the ones who paid him?”

That angered South Carolina Bar Association President Alice Paylor, who expressed her disapproval in a Tuesday press release.

“The political season has blossomed, and a few people are again attacking the Constitutional principles that are essential to a free society,” she said. “Every day lawyers step up to the plate and ensure that each citizen is afforded the rights guaranteed to us all and essential to protect our liberties. It would be refreshing to see comment on the merits of positions rather than attacks seeking to evoke a gut response.”

“The truth is that each and every one of us has a professional duty to ensure that justice is not rationed but is available to everyone,” Paylor added. “It is the job of a criminal defense lawyer to ensure his or her client has a fair trial, not to defend the crime.”

The South Carolina Bar Association is a non-partisan organization and typically does not intervene in political races. The RGA ad, however, triggered Paylor to announce the launch of a website — — which is aimed at “refut[ing] the misinformation that is being spread and provid[ing] education about the legal profession and the service provided by lawyers to the citizens of South Carolina.”

The RGA continues to defend the ad and refuses to take it off air.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R), the RGA’s current chairman and a lawyer by trade, hasn’t personally commented on the ad. But a lawyer representing the Christie campaign and the New Jersey Republican State Committee during the federal investigation into “Bridgegate” has criticized the spot, calling it a “disgrace.”

“The people who talk incessantly about American exceptionalism ought to demonstrate some understanding—and some respect—for what makes our system truly admirable: That includes the willingness of lawyers to stand up for their clients no matter how ugly the allegation. But a lawyer is only ever an advocate; he’s not a co-conspirator or an enabler,” Robert D. Luskin of the law firm Patton Boggs told The Huffington Post.

Incumbent governor Nikki Haley (R) has said that her Democratic opponent certainly had a right to represent the accused, but added: “Just like South Carolinians have the right to know exactly who Vince is and who he chose to represent when they vote for governor.”

Watch the RGA ad here:

h/t: The Maddow Blog

Screenshot: YouTube

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Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • Grannysmovin

    Justice Roberts represented a killer of eight, John Errol Ferguson, in Florida on appeal. This did not prevent Roberts from being confirmed to the Supreme Court.
    Prior to becoming President, John Adams represented British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre. He did so because of his belief that all accused deserve to be represented by counsel. He wrote in his diary: “The part I took in defense of captain Preston and the soldiers, procured me anxiety, and obloquy enough,” Adams wrote. “It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country. Judgment of death against those soldiers would have been as foul a stain upon this country as the executions of the Quakers or witches, anciently.”
    Today’s Republican Leaders only believe in those parts of the Constitution that serve their agenda.

    • Kansan

      I greatly appreciated Adams’ concern for due process, but the hangings of four Quakers on Boston Common or the “pressing” to death of a “wizard” in Salem wasn’t exactly “anciently.”

      Thanks for the info on Roberts.

      Many of the Tea Party types are very uncomfortable with, or adverse to, various Amendments to the Constitution. They are particularly anxious to see the end of the 16th and 17th Amendments, and are not terribly enthused about parts of the 1st, 4th, 5th and 14th.

      • ThomasBonsell

        They also detest the Sixth Amendment, which is at the heart of this South Carolina situation, and the Thirteenth Amendment that outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude.

        • Kansan

          They detest the Sixth, only as it applies to others.

      • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

        They are also only opposed to elements of the 1st Amendment when others publicly disagree with them.

        • latebloomingrandma

          Only the 2nd amendment is sacrosanct.

  • Kansan

    This GOP attack on the prior representation of defendants by court-appointed attorneys isn’t exactly novel. Paleo-Teabagger Congressman Todd Tiahrt KS-4, attacked opponent Carlos Nolla as a supporter of meth cookers in 2002.

  • RobertCHastings

    So, I guess we need to start looking into EVERY former criminal defense attorney who has become a politician. Maybe that is why so many defense attorneys stay where they are.

    • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

      You mean like CJSCOTUS, John Roberts, who made a career out of defending murder suspects in Florida?

      • RobertCHastings

        I didn’t know that about Roberts’ past, but that sure should raise a red flag. While defense attorneys are paid to get the best results they can for their clients, even when they know they are guilty, this would seem to be something that does more than just encourage them to be interested in obtaining equal justice. Knowing a killer is guilty, then managing to get him off on some technicality, seems to me a usurpation of the rule of law.

        • Sand_Cat

          Wiser and fairer lawyers do not wish to know if their clients are guilty, and the presumption that they know otherwise is likely often unfounded.

          • RobertCHastings

            Defense attorneys do not defend their clients based upon any idealism, rather upon their ability to get them the best deal they can. DUI attorneys KNOW their clients are guilty, based upon breathalyzer evidence and on-site sobriety tests, as well as observations by the arresting officer that led to the original traffic stop. The same can easily be said for a defense attorney who tries to get life for his client who has with premeditation killed a family of four. Either way, the attorney cannot do an adequate job of defending his attorney without knowing the truth. Attorneys who approach serious felonies with the idealistic opinion that their clients are actually innocent run the very real risk of looking truth in the face in the courtroom. It is far better to be prepared from a realistic standpoint for all courtroom eventualities than to be caught slack-jawed by the truth in court.

          • Sand_Cat

            Not being an attorney, I prefer not to argue the point, especially since you make some excellent ones. Either way, an attorney is pledged to represent his client to the best of his ability, and shouldn’t be penalized for doing so unless he goes too far overboard in that pursuit.

          • RobertCHastings

            Lawyers are, first and foremost, officers of the court. While their client is their main responsibility, as you say, if they go too far in pursuit of a “not guilty” verdict, there are ethical and legal consequences. In any case, ALL defendants are entitled to the consideration of their innocence before their guilt.
            In North Carolina, in a three-way contest for Associate Justice of the State Supreme Court, a purportedly nonpartisan position, in this primary cycle conservative groups have funneled over 2/3 of a million dollars into the campaigns to two conservatives who are battling against an experienced Justice, a female. The crux of the conservative complaints against this Justice? She voted for the minority position in a case involving requiring sex-offenders to wear electronic monitoring. Her issue with the law was that it would require such monitoring on all released sex offenders, including those released AFTER the law’s passage (an ex post facto situation). The majority held this law was NOT punitive, and Judge Robin Hudson disagreed. North Carolina’s heavily-funded senatorial primary pits the incumbent against four others who are being funded with (at the moment) over $8M in Koch and related funds.

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    So, South Carolina republicans, a group that does not believe there is violence against women or such a thing as rape, is going after a candidate who defended people from what those Good Ole’ Boys don’t believe should be a crime.

    • latebloomingrandma

      Just another example of Republican cognitive dissonance. Someone should compile a little book; well, it would probably be a big book.
      They claim to be for “freedom” (who isn’t?), which is actually just freedom to carry around a gun, or for businesses to exploit people, and shut down freedoms that they don’t agree with.

  • Ann-Marie Poli

    Punishing lawyers for the clients they represent is like punishing a doctor for the patients they treat. This win at all cost mentality is destroying us. This is such a dangerous road to go down.

    • sigrid28

      The collateral damage of this attitude is the failure of 90% of criminal cases to go to trial, whether by bench trial or jury. Currently, 90% of criminal cases are settled in plea deals, by the concurrence of both sides in these cases; so that many innocent people end up with “convictions.” A related problem is the failure of the courts to provide adequate legal representation for those who cannot pay exorbitant legal fees. Then sentencing guidelines fill up for-profit prisons with people who may be innocent but could not get adequate legal representation. Of course the wealthy and/or notorious receive the best representation and may avoid a sentence regardless of their guilt. The RGA, whose members know these conditions intimately, now is making hay out of a miscarriage of justice affecting millions of Americans.

  • For a party that can’t shut up to save their lives about how much they love freedom and the Constitution, they certainly are quick to show disdain for freedom and the Constitution whenever they’re put into practice.

  • RobertCHastings

    So, let’s see. A lawyer representing Christie’s office refuses to criticize the ad, and Christie, the chair of the RGA, who is sponsoring the ad, refuses to comment, even though Christie, as a former lawyer, KNOWS how wrong the ad is, refuses to drop the ad. It looks like Christie is trying to have his cake and eat it, too (no fat reference intended). This makes Christie himself an open target (an exceptionally large one, at that) for the same criticism. In fact, it makes EVERY former defense attorney liable to the same tactic.