Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

An Excellent Nichols Rundown

Posted by Maggie on January 28, 2008

StandDown today posted a link to a lengthy article in the New Yorker on the Nichols case. It gives a good history and a look at where we are today. It actually makes me drool because being Jeffrey Toobin–you know, the guy who wrote the bestseller on the Supreme Court that’s still at #13 on the list despite being out for 15 weeks–he actually has quotes from people. People who are witnesses of the crimes, Stephen Bright, even Judge Fuller! It’s enough to make me start considering doing some source-hunting. While I always try to be up to date on the Nichols case, I am basically at the mercy of the news media, and I’m not always that confident in them.

One thing you shouldn’t look for is answers. Toobin doesn’t really point any fingers or offer any solutions. It’s a narrative more than anything. Then again, how can you solve a problem this big when everyone seems to want to make it worse? (Also scary–Florida caps death penalty defense fees at $15,000. Now that I’m in the private sector, I realize that a lot trials end up costing more than that. Death penalty for $15k? What kind of lawyer is going to agree to that? And what does that mean for a defendant?)

One thing that troubled me, though. The sole quote from GPDSC in the story is from their new head, Mack Crawford. Here he is, the man who represents criminal defense in Georgia and he’s not talking about representation or the Constitution or Wainwright or moving forward with the legislature or any of that stuff. He’s talking about money and the taxpayers. Maybe it’s just me, but I assumed his biggest loyalties would be to the clients who are represented all over Georgia by his agency, whether they’re guilty or innocent. Instead he seems to be more worried about the political machine and the response of the public. We don’t live in a world–especially not a state–that appreciates or values public defense. And if he only tries to please the public, I don’t see how it can help the Agency accomplish their mission. I worry that money is all they’re talking about lately. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Someone in there needs to make a stand. GPDSC should be saying the things we’re hearing from Stephen Bright, they should be proud of their mission and work hard to fulfill it.

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One Response to “An Excellent Nichols Rundown”

  1. Jen said

    Crawford was appointed by Perdue, so I’m not too surprised that he cares more about budgets / public perception than the legacy of Gideon.

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