Monday, March 3, 2008

What Conrad Black Says As He Enters Prison

Conrad Black reported to the Coleman, Florida prison today after being denied bail pending appeal. (see here).  But he did manage to express his side of the case prior to reporting to the prison facility.  In what is titled an Opinion piece in the New York Sun,  Conrad Black presents an in-depth account of the wrongfulness of his conviction. The piece is titled, My Faith in American Justice.  And it is a powerful piece that reaffirms his faith in our judicial system despite what he has suffered.  One paragraph was perhaps the most troubling, and it related to his inability to hire a particular legal counsel to represent him.  It states:

"When we pointed out its deficiencies in our legal motion, the prosecutors laid the charges in this case, stayed other proceedings, and froze almost $10 million owed to me. The action achieved its objective: Brendan V. Sullivan of Williams & Connolly, one of America's most respected trial lawyers, who was my chief counsel, was unable to take this case, because I was unable to provide him, for a time, after the New York seizure, with the retainer he required. In the climate created by these charges and press accounts of them, I was unable to raise any substantial amount of cash for a retainer, which prominent lawyers require, without some time-consuming liquidation of assets."

The government interference with choice of defense counsel (as noted above), with payment to secure proper representation (e.g. Stein Case), and intimidation of those who do defend individuals such as drug traffickers (Kuehne case), is becoming a trend that merits increased judicial oversight.  The right to counsel is crucial and needs to be protected to have a system that affords due process to those charged with crimes.

(esp)

   

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The government interference with choice of defense counsel (as noted above), with payment to secure proper representation (e.g. Stein Case), and intimidation of those who do defend individuals such as drug traffickers (Kuehne case), is becoming a trend that merits increased judicial oversight. The right to counsel is crucial and needs to be protected to have a system that affords due process to those charged with crimes.

I could not agree more. Too bad that indigent people charged with crimes have been suffering from government abuses for decades. The decision in Strickland v. Washington, and subsequent practices, has undermined the lofty goals of Powell v. Alabama and Gideon v. Wainwright. The situation for indigent defendants charged with capital crimes is even more appalling.

Posted by: Michael Blankenship | Mar 4, 2008 6:22:59 AM

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