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Defense Outreach In Holmes Case Was 'Manipulative,' Victim Says

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CBS4 in Denver has this story with the above title.

A victim of the Aurora theater massacre said he believes defense lawyers and anti-death penalty groups have tried to use him like a pawn.
Marcus Weaver voiced his previous opposition to the death penalty and spoke and wrote about forgiving suspect James Holmes. His stance drew the attention of groups opposed to capital punishment and eventually led  to a meeting with a victim's advocate who worked for Holmes' lawyers.

That advocate, Tammy Krause, told Weaver she'd encountered difficulty reaching out to other victims.
Weaver said he felt puzzled by that.

"You're a victim's advocate," he remembers telling Krause.

"I'm a DIVO," he says she told him.

That's short for Defense-Initiative Victims Outreach, a program that defense attorneys say help victims recover.

Weaver, 43, said when he was asked to disseminate a letter to other victims and victims' family to dissuade them from supporting the death penalty in Holmes' case, "that's when it got really fuzzy," he said.

"As the conversation ... went on, she was not very clear about who she was, what her role was," Weaver said.

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"It made me distrust the Colorado (anti-)death penalty folks, too, because she had arranged a dinner meeting with a person I thought was a possible advocate or a person who wanted to hear my story or wanted me to speak at an event," Weaver said. "But what it turned out to be was something that was manipulative, I felt, in a way."

We have seen this in other cases in the post-conviction context, with people from the defense approaching jurors, witnesses, and victims, identifying themselves in ways that intentionally obscure the fact that they are working for the defense.

We should have a very clear rule of professional ethics on this.  Lawyers should have a duty to ensure that everyone on their team identifies themselves clearly to the people they contact.  Arcane acronyms and clever half-truths are unethical.

2 Comments

When in-court deceit is one's stock-in-trade, out-of-court deceit is no big deal.

The ends justify the means. This is how these guys roll.

What these people lack is a sense of perspective. They are so convinced of the moral righteousness of their cause that they are not just willing to overlook the fact that someone didn't ask to be a family member of a murder victim, but they'll wear such indifference as a badge of honor.

I tend to blame the judiciary for tolerating these sorts of stunts more than defense counsel. But Bill's criticism is more than well-taken. One area where I think the judiciary could step in is the juror interviews. I am a pretty tough guy, but I'd be pretty intimidated if some capital defense attorney lackey came to my home (I have children) and started questioning me about my death vote in a case. Defense attorneys will share all sorts of info with their clients. If I were a juror, do you think I'd want some capital murderer (and hence his family or friends) to know where my kids live? The judiciary could simply exclude "evidence" like that.

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