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Editorial Comment


Tom Silverman responds to DA Martin Beeson’s “Truth Hurts” comments

November 1, 2010
Martin Hurts the Truth and the Truth Hurts Martin

 

I don’t want this to be just an attack on Martin Beeson. I like Martin and I could defend
him based on the good things he has done for the benefit of the District. Nonetheless, his
public quotes are like watching a self-directed amputation, you know it’s going to be
horrible, but you pay attention to see how bad it gets.

Martin’s latest responses are so misguided, contradictory, and poorly grounded in law or
fact that it begs for a response.

 

First, you can’t be “misquoted” when you underline, reaffirm and add detail to the
original quote. If he intended to say that the newspaper’s emphasis was his objection,
any news organization would leap upon the inflammatory, outrageous, and erroneous
attack he made on the public defenders. Statements to the effect that they don’t defend
the public and are not serving the public good and are “taxpayer-funded attorneys for
criminals” would attract attention by any media.

 

Trying to shoot the messenger (Aspen Daily News) when you are in fact the messenger
doesn’t work. Nor characterizing the responses as ad hominem arguments ignores the
fact that the DA began the attack on the public defenders. The ad hominem (et ad
feminam?) attack by Martin initiated the statewide outraged responses.

The DA isn’t the victim. He is the perpetrator.

 

Second, to claim the response is “self-righteous” shows microscopic self-examination
when the entire tone of the DA’s position is scarily sanctimonious.

The binary thinking appears to be prosecution and law enforcement know what’s best for
the public and should not be subject to defense counsel’s ” … needlessly frustrating the
DA’s efforts.” And, if the defense uses ” … legal loopholes to suppress incriminating
evidence.” the DA perversely characterizes this as “abusing the Sixth Amendment right to
… counsel.”

 

I remember cases in which the defense “frustrated” the DA’s efforts to convict the
innocent. The literal statement of the DA characterizes these people as “criminals”.

The DA argues that support for the public defender comes from “spin doctors”. First, as
William Safire said; “cliches should be avoided like the plague.” The DA wraps his
arguments with the sanctity of the police, describing the “…potential devastating detriment
of themselves … and their small children … “. It makes me wonder if he is concerned
about the larger children.

 

In another defense he, inappropriately, refers to what must be an ongoing case of tragedy
involving a police officer. It would make one think police can only be victims not
perpetrators because they are “the good guys.” Reality contradicts this.

When the DA talks about the public, that includes everyone, including all those charged
or wrongfully charged by his office. All are protected by the Constitution his remarks
disparage. How ironic that Martin recognizes the dangers of the expansion of government
power and expense so long as that doesn’t include himself, his office, or the prison
system.

 

“There is a seemingly irresistible disposition of those who possess power to abuse it.”
Huston Smith in “The World’s Great Religions.”

 

Martin is outraged at what he describes as the wrongful claim that he committed a
misdemeanor and felony but seems incapable of appreciating empathy for those similarly
charged by his office. If he had been charged for those crimes, and couldn’t afford
counsel, and was then represented by the public defender, would he be one of those
criminals represented by the taxpayer funded lawyers for criminals he assaults?

You shouldn’t be heard to claim you are in it for the public service and then argue you’re
not paid as much as private counsel. I question whether the DA’s are underpaid by
market analysis and note DA’s who fled private practice to take the government check.

For him to refer to his budget as “sacred” is hypocritical and hyperbolic, if not
blasphemous. The truth is that his budget could be cut 30% , let alone 5%, and no one
would recognize the slightest bit of difference in public safety.

 

The reference to ” … threats of those with political ambitions who use this debate as a
launching point for a political campaign.” is weird.

 

I know of no critic who fits this description, but I do know a DA who recently abandoned
a dismally failed campaign for Congress for lack of credible support. Whose political
ambition is he truly worried about?

 

Every warrantless arrest is presumed illegal. Most arrests are warrantless. Every
statement to the police is subject to scrutiny regarding its voluntariness and compliance
with constitutional warnings. Every case involves the obligation of the prosecution to
provide exculpatory evidence, reports, and statements of witnesses to the defense.

Failure of the prosecution to abide by the rules can result in suppression and dismissal of
the case. American law doesn’t support conviction no matter how obtained. Therefore,
almost every case involves motions. Ethical conduct by the defense is to ensure the
defendant’s rights are provided and protected. Failure to file motions is, in my opinion, a
bigger problem than the filing of frivolous ones. Cynically believing that pecuniary
interest of attorneys is the issue shows a fundamental misunderstanding of defense
motives.

 

We all know the DA’s office has had evidence suppressed for violation of these general
principles in numerous cases. From the defense side, you can’t know in advance how the
judge will rule. But that is an important point, it’s the judge who suppresses evidence
after listening to the DA try to support the legality of his position. This is not “a dirty
secret” it’s known by anyone with rudimentary criminal justice awareness.

It is the prosecution theory that someone has committed a crime. The noble DA should
embrace the opportunity to show that the evidence he is using was legally obtained, and
that he is not hiding anything, and that he welcomes the burden of proving the charge
beyond a reasonable doubt to guarantee the protection of the innocent.

Attacking the public defender to support a taxpayer burden of a bloated DA budget

in hard times should not be the focus.




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