How can you defend those people?” That’s a question public defenders hear a lot. It was one I have pondered during my hardest assignment as a lawyer in the abuse and neglect division of juvenile court in Cook County, Illinois, one of the biggest and busiest court systems in the world.
Juvenile court is a vale of tears. My clients are people who have hurt or neglected their children. The cases can be horrifying: The dad who put out cigarettes on his children’s skin. The mom who drank 40 ounces of malt liquor every day while she was pregnant, bearing children with the flat faces and brain damage of fetal alcohol syndrome. The man who, in an effort to get his girlfriend’s son to learn his ABCs, whipped him so brutally with electrical cords that the boy was flayed.
Arthur E. Farnsley on flea-market capitalism, Jeanne Bishop on becoming a public defender, interview with Nanette Sawyer.
Lord have mercy
Apr 09, 2015
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).