Friday, November 6, 2015
A couple of days ago, Robert J. Smith published a terrific article in the Slate entitled The Worst Lawyers. Rob is currently a senior fellow at Harvard Law School's Charles Hamilton Houston Institute and a visiting scholar at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. I remember corresponding with Rob when he was first starting as a legal academic in 2012 and discussing teaching methodology. I've been impressed by a number of pieces of legal scholarship he's written and would recommend them to anyone.
The Slate piece is excellent. This pull-quote pretty much sums it up:
Defendants get both the deadliest prosecutors in America and some of the country’s very worst defense lawyers.
Here's another interesting paragraph:
Herman Alcantar has been called, by a lawyer intervening on behalf of one of his former clients, “arguably the busiest capital defense attorney in the entire United States.” That’s not a compliment. Capital cases are notoriously complex and time-consuming. One trial-level capital case can be a full caseload for a defense attorney, and almost no one considers it a good idea to handle more than two active death penalty cases at a time. During the winter of 2009, Alcantar represented five pretrial capital defendants at once. He was so busy, in fact, that one month before the trial of Fabio Gomez was set to begin, Alcantar had neither filed a single substantive motion nor visited his client in more than a year. Six of Alcantar’s former clients are on death row. (emphasis added).
This quote gives good additional context to one of the points of discussion in our most recent episode of Undisclosed. While representing Adnan, Cristina Gutierrez was not only involved with eight murder cases in five different jurisdictions; four of these were also death penalty cases. In fact, three of them involved the issue of whether the Federal Death Penalty Act applied in Puerto Rico.