Friday, May 8, 2015
The two North Carolina death penalty defense attorneys charged with ethics violations have filed answers that deny the allegations of misconduct.
The attorneys are charged with Rule 1.3 (lack of diligence) and 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
These answers persuasively demonstrate how thin these charges are and confirm my earlier views that these cases should not have been brought.
The essence of the answers are that minor mistakes in complex litigation do not equate with lack of diligence. If perfection was required, every lawyer in every case would be subject to discipline.
Attached to the answers are court opinions in which the responsible judge specifically concluded that the inconsistencies at issue were immaterial and that the attorneys conduct was "not the product of intentional misconduct, willfulness or bad faith."
Case closed, one might well think.
But, wait, there's more.
The underlying death penalty cases at issue involved allegations of Batson violations by the prosecutors.
The court found the evidence demonstrated that the prosecutors engaged in a pattern of race-based decision making in death penalty cases.
The "words and deeds of the prosecutors involved...In the writings of prosecutors long buried in case files and brought to light for the first time in this hearing, the Court finds powerful evidence of race consciousness and race-based decision making" in the jury selection process.
Is the State Bar prosecuting those prosecutors?