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Defending defense attorneys

Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2007, at 9:05 AM

Here's the role of a defense attorney, as defined in a Jackson Sun interview with District Attorney General Michael Dunnavant, who prosecuted -- "attempted to prosecute" may be a better term -- the Mary Winkler case:

"The job of a defense attorney is not to seek the truth. It's to get their client off, by hook or crook, by lie, deception, subterfuge, confusion, whatever it is...They have different ethical considerations than we do. We have a higher ethical requirement on us as prosecutors..."

In other words, Dunnavant's just claimed that defense attorneys are liars.

Maybe Dunnavant, the state's youngest DA at 36, is a sore loser since Winkler only spent months in prison instead of years for killing her husband. And his claim that Winkler planned to kill her children is preposterous.

Defense attorneys sometimes get a bad rap, but we'd be a lot worse without them, especially when the innocent are unjustly accused. Your thoughts?

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Yes, defense attorneys sometimes get a bad rap. If I were up for trial I would want the best defense possible BUT there are too many loopholes on the laws that are used to get guilty people off.

Now I don't propose that we spend millions more on closing the loopholes. Instead I believe we need to come up with a more common sense way to use the evidence and get convictions.

What do I mean by that? Here is an example. A person kills someone, the evidence is overwhelming with forensic, eye witnesses, maybe even a confession, BUT someone forgot to read the person their rights. SO WHAT! The victim was not read their rights. The trial should proceed and the verdict handed out.

There may be ways to still get a conviction, but my point is that too many "technicalities" are used to free the guilty.

Now about the legal system in general. My company just went through defending a patent. Sounds like it was a recent case, but actually it was drug through every kind of legal delay, change of venue, obvious contempt of court orders that were ignored, etc. for over seven years.

This person and his lawyers was an expert at manipulating the system. It was not his first attempt to steal patented products. We finally ended up with a judgment in our favor, but in the end we had paid out over $750,000 in lawyer fees and incurred several hundred thousand dollars more in lost work, travel,paying witnesses expenses, etc.

The JUDGE awarded us a $50,000 settlement to slap the guy's hands, which he has not paid yet and will probably cost us tat much to try to collect. GREAT SYSTEM.

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Nov 14, 2007, at 9:36 AM

There are many documented cases of abuses of the offices of District Attornies. Since it is an elected position, many have used false evidence, etc., just to get a conviction. Just to say a crime is solved.

There are people involved in legal issues, therefore deceit will occur on both sides from time to time. Could be like the pot calling the kettle black couldn't it?

-- Posted by dmcg on Tue, Nov 13, 2007, at 9:41 PM

I found the DA's comments very much out of place at the time Mary Winkler is trying to get custody of her children. I'm sure the judge will read or hear of these statements. The DA has no idea what her plans were, or if she even had plans. Is he a psychologist?

-- Posted by bettyhbrown on Tue, Nov 13, 2007, at 12:20 PM

I'm sure that there has never been a DA or Assistant DA that has lied to get a conviction....(rolling eyes)


-- Posted by HorseGentler on Tue, Nov 13, 2007, at 9:40 AM

They take an oath to provide their clients with the best defense they know how. It is all in a job title.

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Tue, Nov 13, 2007, at 9:31 AM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.