Christopher Clugston was convicted of a crime he did not commit. While he was in prison he was gang raped and infected with AIDS. (In other words, he was murdered.) Bernard Baran was convicted of a crime he did not commit and was raped dozens of times in prison. The Central Park Five were convicted of a crime they did not commit. One of them still showers in his clothes. What do you think happened to him in prison?
These are just three cases, where seven innocent men went to prison for crimes they did not commit. These cases and many others like them are glaring reminders of why we need criminal defense attorneys. This is why we need due process. This is why we must never compromise on civil liberties and this is why we must reject demands to take away or limit the rights of accused and convicted criminals to an aggressive defense. Even convicted criminals are sometimes innocent.
The right of someone accused of a crime to have an attorney is a fundamental right in our system of government. The Founding Fathers understood this and passed the Sixth Amendment. We have due process for a reason: Sometimes prosecutors can be corrupt and seek to frame innocent people. You can look at disgraced, disbarred ex-prosecutor Mike Nifong as an example. Other times, mistakes are made even without malicious intent. Perhaps law enforcement was too zealous or tunnel visioned to see the truth.
This is why the Republican Party is wrong to attack Tim Kaine for working as a criminal defense attorney. I am not saying that every single thing Kaine did was 100% honorable, but serving as a criminal defense attorney is in and of itself am honorable and necessary thing.
The anti-Kaine commercial has been compared to the infamous Willie Horton commercial from 1988. This is a flawed comparison. First, the Willie Horton ad was 100% true and fair. Second, there is a world of difference between letting a convicted murderer out on furlough and serving as a defense attorney. Releasing Horton was dangerously stupid and irresponsible. No one disputes Horton’s guilt. Serving as a defense attorney is, as I explained above, a necessary component to our criminal justice system.
The nation deserves better than the shamefully anti-American agenda of this commercial, and Republican voters deserve better. Most importantly, the Constitution deserves better.