Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

Pleased at Punishment

Posted by Maggie on December 14, 2007

I was looking through some law school classmates’ update notes the other day, telling everybody where they are and what they’re doing. One who’s working as an ADA proudly said he had just received an LWOP (life without parole) sentence in a murder case. Reading these kinds of comments now upsets me. There seems often to be some kind of joy some of them take out of punishing others.

One shining example is David McDade, the Douglas County DA who you may remember as the guy who wanted Genarlow Wilson to rot in prison for 10 years. Up in Douglas County, he just got another death sentence. It is the 15th straight one given when requested by the DA. McDade says he’s “mighty proud” of his county (no joke, exact quote).

Even as a criminal defense attorney, I understand that there are people who commit the kind of crimes heinous enough to warrant some kind of punishment. But I don’t understand why it’s necessary to rejoice when that punishment is as excessive as possible. It seems these DA’s often forget that this punishment, whatever it is, is there for a reason. That in a murder case, someone had to lose their life. I feel like I never hear that kind of thing anymore. I don’t know if it’s the media or the DA’s, but I never hear anyone prosecuting a case say, “I wish this hadn’t happened. I wish I didn’t have to send a person to jail or to death row. But I did my job and the jury did what they thought was best.” We defense attorneys get a lot of crap for being driven by our own need to win regardless of the consequences, but I think it goes both ways. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were throwing a party in the Douglas County DA’s Office today.

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