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The Mask Slips Again


The defense bar is forever riding its high horse about its devotion to compassion, while prosecutors continue their cold, callous and mean-spirited ways.

But every now and again the mask slips, as it did in some defense lawyer comments to the press about a client who is facing execution.

Courtesy of a tip from reader federalist, here's the story (emphasis added):

HUNTSVILLE -- With his back turned while he wrote on a piece of paper, security guard Brian Williams never saw Gayland Bradford come up behind him at a Dallas grocery store.

As seen on a surveillance video, Bradford pulls a pistol from his waistband, says nothing and shoots the 29-year-old Williams in the back. He turns the gun toward a store clerk, who runs behind some displays, fires three more times at Williams, then yells for a companion, who joins him in trying to take cash from a register. They left with $7 taken from Williams, who died about an hour later. It was his second day on the job.


Edwin King Jr., one of Bradford's trial lawyers, recalled the video as "very disturbing, and when the jurors saw it most of them began to cry."

His co-counsel, Paul Brauchle, said the tape showing Williams in prolonged agony was devastating to the defense trying to keep Bradford off death row.

"The jury gets to sit there and listen to the guy moan and groan and agonize," Brauchle said. "A 4-year-old kid could have gotten death."  ###

Well, gads, Mr. Brauchle, I guess we should apologize that your client was inconvenienced by the fact that the jury had to "listen to the guy moan and groan."  That must really have been annoying.

As I say, every now and again the mask slips.



I think you have taken Mr. Brauchle's comment out of context. What he and Mr. King seem to be talking about is the overwhelming strength of the State's case on guilt and punishment because of the video. I don't read their comments as reflecting negatively on the prosecution for seeking execution. I'm an avid reader of the blog, but I feel that the comment is off-the-mark. Bradford earned his punishment, but his trial lawyers should not be punished merely for acknowledging the terrible facts of his crime.

Let me note a number of things. First, I have no objection to Mr. King's comment, only to Mr. Brauchle's. Second, I don't think I took the latter out of context, although if you have more information about his remarks than I do, I will stand to be corrected. Third, I have never, in roughly six decades, heard the phrase "moan and groan" used other than dismissively. Fourth, I didn't criticize either member of the defense for attacking the government's pursuit of the death penalty; I criticized one of them for using unacceptably callous language in referring to the the victim's suffering. Fifth, I read the comment the same way federalist did, to wit, as tossing off what the victim felt, rather than acknowledging how awful the crime was.

Different people sometimes read the same thing in different ways, of course, so, while I disagree with you, I appreciate your input and hope you continue to enjoy the blog.

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