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An Utterly Repugnant Statement

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I generally don't join with those who bash defense lawyers as a group.  For the most part, they are responsible professionals who perform an important function in our system.  When it comes to the death penalty, though, some on the defense side seem to come completely unhinged.  AP has this story on the sentencing of Steven Hayes in Connecticut.  Our friend Dudley Sharp has this reaction to defense counsel's remarks:

Defense attorney Thomas Ullmann defended  Steven Hayes in the capital murder trial of the three rape/torture/murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, who was raped and strangled to death, along with her two daughters, 17-year-old  Haley and 11-year-old Michaela. Michaela was sexually assaulted. Both girls were burned alive and died of smoke inhalation.  Dr. Bill Petit was beaten with a baseball bat, suffers permanent injuries, but survived. He is the sole survivor from his immediate family.
When the day came for sentencing Hayes to death, what did Ullman say?
"Today when the court sentences Steven Hayes to death everyone becomes a killer. We all become Steven Hayes." 

Ullman said that with Bill Petit and  the extended Hawke/Petit family, loved ones and friends in the courtroom. Ullman called all of them Steven Hayes, as well as all others who find the death penalty a just and appropriate punishment for horrendous crimes.
 
The moral decay of Ullman's statement is hard to fathom, as is the profound cruelty of when and where he voiced it.
 
Even Steven Hayes voiced knowing the moral differences between guilty murderer and innocent victims, the punishment of the guilty and the violation of the innocent.

15 Comments

What do the remarks of one defense lawyer, on one case, have to do with defense lawyers as a group? I don't see how your opening sentence fits in with the rest of your post.

What part of "some" did you not understand?

Sorry, reading it again I can see I just misunderstood it the first time. My apologies.

"Today when the court sentences Steven Hayes to death everyone becomes a killer. We all become Steven Hayes."

And to think people think this guy is in a position to lecture the rest of us about morality.

It's especially noteworthy that the killer's remarks were appropriate and acknowledged the victims, whereas the attorney's remarks were completely appalling.

notablogger,

Nailed it. For a defense lawyer to make what he knows will be a useless and deliberately cruel comment like that pulls back the curtain on the dark side of the ethos of defense work -- the side I address in the entry that follows this one.

"We all become Steven Hayes." Let that sink in. It just goes to show the warped view of a lot of true believers. For them, the death penalty is such an awful thing that any rhetorical device, any tactic (e.g., harassing jurors 20 years later) or any subterfuge is justified, nay, required. It is this mindset that allows Connecticut legislators to insult Dr. Petit at a hearing. It is this mindset that allows defense attorneys to serve up ridiculous last-minute appeals (e.g., Cal Brown's last-minute incompetency argument, one that even Judge Reinhardt wouldn't swallow). It is this mindset that allows Judge Fine to figuratively spit on the victims by allowing the defense attorneys to turn his courtroom into a circus and delay justice. And it is this mindset that allows the execrable Richard Dieter to peddle his misleading statistics at the Death Penalty [Mis]Information Center.

These people love to assume the mantle of society's conscience, as if the rest of us are just base and morally obtuse. I reject out of hand the presumptuousness of these scolds. They are nothing but arrogant twits who apparently are addicted to the feeling of superiority that they apparently get from lecturing the rest of us.

The death penalty does not make us become Steven Hayes.

But it does makes us extremely barbaric.

The death penalty does not make us become Steven Hayes.

But it does make us extremely barbaric.

If the death penalty for Steven Hayes is justified, then why not torture?

"Even Steven Hayes voiced knowing the moral differences between guilty murderer and innocent victims, the punishment of the guilty and the violation of the innocent".

I sick of pro-death penalty hypocrisy.

According to this logic, we should legalize torture. After all, why distinguish between an "innocent" body and a "guilty" body?

To most pro-death penalty advocates, torture is more shocking to the conscience than killing.

Weak. Weak. Weak.


"We all become Steven Hayes."

We all become MORONS.

Steven Hayes will never see the inside of an execution chamber.

The death penalty is not justice. It is stupid.

TAOISEACH --

The rules of the forum do not forbid analysis. That's A-N-A-L-Y-S-I-S. You can try anytime.

"The rules of the forum do not forbid analysis. That's A-N-A-L-Y-S-I-S. You can try anytime."

I don't see you condemning any of the thugs on this forum for hurling cheap insults at those moral enough to oppose the death penalty.

Take a hike, hypocrite.

TAOISEACH --

"Take a hike."

I'll look forward to your enforcing that.

"I don't see you condemning any of the thugs on this forum for hurling cheap insults at those moral enough to oppose the death penalty."

The idea that support for the death penalty marks a person as "immoral" is preposterous. Abraham Lincoln supported the DP, as did FDR and Eisenhower. Indeed all of them USED the death penalty.

Of course it's also supported by the American public by 2-1. Someone in so outmanned a position as the one you occupy might consider a more modest approach to the subject.

I went by the former alias, "TAOISEACH".

Bill Otis says:

"The idea that support for the death penalty marks a person as "immoral" is preposterous. Abraham Lincoln supported the DP, as did FDR and Eisenhower. Indeed all of them USED the death penalty".

Weak response.

George Washington was a slave owner.

Abraham Lincoln supported the suspension of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War.

Franklin Roosevelt supported incarcerating Japanese civilians en masse.

Dwight Eisenhower was very reluctant to enforce the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

All of these Presidents embraced human rights violations at some point in their careers.

Bill Otis also says:

"Of course it's also supported by the American public by 2-1. Someone in so outmanned a position as the one you occupy might consider a more modest approach to the subject".

Very unintellectual response, Otis. Please do better.

The American people embrace a plethora of immoral practices. Populism is a weak antidote to the virus of moral relativism.

Am I supposed to respect the American people's support for abortion rights?

Am I supposed to respect the American people's support for gay marriage/civil unions?

Am I supposed to respect the American people's support for legalizing no fault divorce?

The majority of the American people do not live by God's laws. They spit on God's laws.

You might consider a more reasoned response before you invoke populist arguments to defend your moral relativism.


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