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You Can't Make This Stuff Up

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Yesterday, I wrote about a defense lawyer whose pretrial spin on his client was denial of factual guilt.  That's hardly out of the ordinary; indeed it's standard practice. It's not uniform practice, however, because there are some cases  --  James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado shooter, for example  --  where it just makes the defense seem disconnected from reality to maintain factual innocence.  Yesterday's case was like that:  A father, furious at his wife for leaving him, drove to her new house and butchered (literally) the couples' three little girls, then called his estranged wife to say, "You can come home now because I killed the kids."  To refuse to concede factual guilt on a record like that seems not just misleading but foolish.  Are you doing the client any favors?

Anyway, after most or all of the suppression motions tanked, the defense lawyer finally publicly conceded factual guilt, shifting to the usual Plan B (the client did it, but only because he had "a major depressive disorder").

Just when you think things can't get any sillier (or more nauseating)...
..., you get up and read the morning's news, and find out just how naive you really are, even after 25 years in the business.  Thus I bring you today's gem from the AP, courtesy of Yahoo News:  "Ohio man who sexually assaulted baby seeks mercy."  The story begins:

Condemned killer Steven Smith's argument for mercy isn't an easy one. Smith acknowledges he intended to sexually assault his girlfriend's 6-month-old daughter but says he never intended to kill the baby.

The girl, Autumn Carter, of Mansfield, died because Smith was too drunk to realize his sexual assault was killing the child, Smith's attorneys planned to tell the Ohio Parole Board on Tuesday. 


The gist of it is that Smith wants to re-litigate, while seeking executive clemency, the main issue the jury and the courts resolved against him, to wit, his intent.  I guess (since guessing is all I can do when this far out into Kafkaesque territory) that the question his lawyers want to put before the parole board is whether Smith intended to suffocate her screams to prevent her rescue by her mother, or whether he merely intended to rape her and got carried away with the "excitement" of it all.


Good grief.


Still, what to do?  When you murder a six month-old by suffocating her while raping her, I guess there's not a lot left on the plate.  In a different world, though, there might be one thing  --  the dignity of silence, and the quiet, grief-laden but soul-building remorse of accepting what you've earned.

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