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The Republican Governors Association "goes there" with my absolute least-favorite attack ad topic of all time: criticizing criminal defense attorneys for their work representing clients. In a new spot, the RGA lambastes Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who is running to unseat Gov. Nikki Haley in South Carolina, as "trial lawyer" who "made money off criminals" and "got a sex offender out of jail time."

I'm never one for Marquess of Queensberry rules when it comes to campaign trail fights. Politics is messy, after all. But these kinds of ads are a direct assault on the very notion of an adversarial system of justice, one of the foundations of our democracy. Making criminal defense seem like a scuzzy, dishonorable, fiendish line of work will just lead to fewer (and worse) criminal defense attorneys, which is the last thing we need.

The RGA obviously doesn't give a damn about that, though, and this kind of attack, sadly, may very well have been poll-tested as effective. Similar slurs, for instance, derailed Debo Adegbile's nomination to head up the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. Then again, this is the same gang that brought us the absurd Schauer/shower ads in Michigan that criticized a Democrat for supporting laws passed by Republicans, so perhaps not. We can only hope.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 08:26 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Republicans Are Against Our Entire (16+ / 0-)

    system of government.

    So yeah, when they run for office, they're going to attack whatever element of it can be tied to the campaign.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 08:28:39 AM PDT

  •  I'm surprised since many Rs need their services (11+ / 0-)

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 08:31:51 AM PDT

  •   Republicans are always going on about (15+ / 0-)

    the Founding Fathers.

    Do they not know about John Adams' role in the Boston Massacre?

    Adams risked a lot to defend British soldiers because he understood that the basis of the justice system is that everyone must have a fair and competent defense.

    Just one more thing the repubs want to take away.

    You cannot cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. Rabindranath Tagore

    by Thomasina on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 08:36:44 AM PDT

  •  Even (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sethtriggs, Arfeeto, ER Doc

    Even Broadway musicals are attacking defense attorneys now!

    Spooky Mormon Hell Dream!
    Genghis Khan,
    Jeffrey Dahmer,
    Johnnie Cochran!
    The spirits all surround you,
    Spooky spooky spooky!

    I started a war, and killed millions of Jews!

    I slaughtered the Chinese!

    I stabbed a guy and fucked his corpse!

    I got O.J. freed!

    Good girls shop. Bad girls shop. Shoppin', shoppin' from A to Z!

    by Zornorph on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 09:07:57 AM PDT

  •  With all these GOPers being caught in sex abuse (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrJersey, Thomasina, sajiocity

    situations as well as investigations for mis-use of funds you would think they would all have defense lawyers on speed dial...I suppose they are just not that smart.

    Les Paul, NOT Rand Paul!

    by old mark on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:10:07 AM PDT

    •  And that dipshit George Zimmerman (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MrJersey, Thomasina

      Where were these whiners when he was defended against murder charges?

      •  that is a very good question. (0+ / 0-)

        You cannot cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. Rabindranath Tagore

        by Thomasina on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 11:54:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  fastpathguru - I don't think that Zimmerman's (0+ / 0-)

        defense counsel is running for public office. If he was running, and running as a Republican, I can only imagine the ads Democrats would run.

        I think it's clear that if you want a future in politics be a prosecutor or civil lawyer. As important and admirable as criminal defense is, it appears to be a negative for a politician.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 11:18:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  But those are defenders of the righteous! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Those trumped-up gotcha tactics of the liberal left are just pure unconstitutional tyranny against conservatives and right-minded folk, don't cha' know!

      America, where a rising tide lifts all boats! Unless you don't have a boat...uh...then it lifts all who can swim! Er, if you can't swim? SHAME ON YOU!

      by Back In Blue on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 11:30:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  attack (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    An attack on a victorious defense lawyer is not only an attack on our judicial system--it is an attack on our peers--the jury!

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:24:01 AM PDT

  •  Vincent Sheheen: Good At His Job (7+ / 0-)

    That's the take-away I get from this ad...

    Or, Republican Governors: Against Fair Trials

    This is about as anti-American as it gets.

  •  I wholeheartedly support this post. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mikidee, VClib

    However, I will note that some on the left have been known to dismiss the presumption of innocence and laws of evidence when it was convenient to do so. I'm not really looking to start a flame fest. I've been guilty of the same thing a time or twenty. It's an impulse I try to suppress. I'm far from perfect.

    All I am saying here is that, yes... it's horrible that these ads attack the notion that guilt needs to be proved in a court of law and that the accused are entitled to competent defense. I'd love to see more of that sentiment expressed, please.

    You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

    by Eric Stratton on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:44:36 AM PDT

  •  We could tell them about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueKS, Thomasina

    John Adams and the Boston Massacre, but they have probably never heard of the little Commie.

    The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion. Molly Ivins

    by MufsMom on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:44:41 AM PDT

  •  Not much anyone can do if people buy into this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thomasina, Arfeeto


    Hate to say it, but there are many....  To many low IQ types that will.

    “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

    by LamontCranston on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:45:30 AM PDT

  •  I saw the same garbage argument here on Dkos (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when David Wildstein's lawyer advised him to invoke his 5th Amendment rights before the NJ legislative committee investigating "Bridgegate."

    It's okay to bash lawyers - until you need one. Wrong

    “…The day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole.” – Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, The Autumn of the Patriarch

    by mikidee on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:49:07 AM PDT

  •  Saw that last night and explained to the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thomasina, Arfeeto

    grandkids that it's a political ad which automatically means it's 99% pure bullshit.  We discussed the appeal to emotion with the use of the scary music, the picture of the kid's face, the tear at the end and how it was all set up to make you feeeeeeeeel a certain way and not weigh the facts....I told them to go look it up and see what they found.

    I want these ads to mean NOTHING to future generations.  The money spent on this crap could be used for many much more noble purposes.

    The explanation about how our judicial system works and how everyone is entitled to a good defense and if someone really is guilty and the evidence is there to prove it, they will be found guilty came up too.  They (2 teenagers and tween) learned a lot last night :-)

    Listening to the NRA on school safety is like listening to the tobacco companies on cigarette safety. (h/t nightsweat)

    by PsychoSavannah on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:54:44 AM PDT

  •  I have seen the ad and fail to see where it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    advances the goal of getting their man elected since, in SC, I would guess most criminal lawyers are stout GOP types and do not take kindly to these characterizations of their profession.

    I also note that Graham is running a series of ads where he is pushing to be re-elected so he can return to DC and either repeal Obamacare or at least amend it so individual states can "opt out"

  •  When Senate Democrats quailed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrJersey, Thomasina

    and failed to stand up for the President's nominee at DOJ against the attack on his having been a trial lawyer, we should have expected more such attacks. Democratic failures to fight Republican slurs on basic American values only encourage Republicans to go further down that path, since they find so little effective resistance there.

    Marx was an optimist.

    by psnyder on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:54:58 AM PDT

  •  On the defense lawyer's role (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Whether criminal defense attorneys believe in their clients' innocence is unimportant.  Indeed, these lawyers are duty bound to refrain from judging.  After all, many others are well prepared to perform that unsavory task: judges, juries, and perhaps God. The only role for the defense is to listen to his or her client, and then suspend disbelief.

    I don't suggest that the makers of this despicable political ad are ignorant of the adversarial nature of legal proceedings.  I do suggest this, however: their knowledge of the law makes their actions all the more odious, for through innuendo, they seek to exploit voters' ignorance for political gain.

  •  well, before we point fingers, we should remember (0+ / 0-)

    that our own side has already agreed that certain people ('terrorists") who have never been charged or convicted of a crime, "deserve" to be summarily executed, even if they are a US citizen.

    Once we accept that one particular group of disliked people "don't deserve trials" and should just be summarily executed, it's no longer a big leap to deciding that OTHER disliked people--such as child molesters or rapists or mass shooters--also "don't deserve trials" (especially if "we already know they are guilty"). And then to decide that anyone who defends the legal rights of "those people" are, in effect, just supporting the criminals. And once on that pathway, it has ALWAYS led to the same place in every society that was dumb enough to follow it.

    The veneer of civilization is a LOT thinner than we like to think, and neither end of the political spectrum is immune to breaching it.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 11:08:26 AM PDT

    •  Who? (0+ / 0-)

      Are you talking about Kahleed Sheikh Mohammed or Dick Cheney?

      Huey728 "I'm not really big on calling strangers on the phone, but I felt this election was too important to just sit back and watch." Elections are decided exactly this way; every damned election! GOTV counts... the votes!

      by Nebraska68847Dem on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 11:30:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Deliberate confusion of the issue (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      By that rationale, you wouldn't be able to fight even a purely defensive war, since you wouldn't be able to kill enemy soldiers before determining their individual degree of guilt.

      In warfare, the enemy is always killed without the formality of a trial, if he or she is still actively resisting. However, if someone surrenders and is then executed without trial, this is murder. It is exactly the same with a police force that is operating within legal parameters -- you don't get to shoot the ones that have given themselves up (note that I said "within legal parameters"). The difference is control. When the enemy is under our control -- a prisoner -- he or she is entitled to all legal formalities. When the enemy is not under our control, the only limitations that hold are ones dictated by pragmatism and the provisions of the handful of treaties that have attempted to regulate war (and which are rarely honored in full, as you well know).

      The line between the enemy and the prisoner, and the drastic difference in the way one is permitted to act towards each, is very old and well understood. It's a pity you're trying to blur it for your own rhetorical purposes.

      "They bash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago volume 3)

      by sagesource on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 11:54:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gotta keep the Jails Full (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    Those Corporate run Jails need More "Clients".

    Fewer Defense Lawyers is a simple way to boost those
    Corporate PROFITS.

    Just wait until they turn Jaywalking into a FELONY.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 11:18:18 AM PDT

  •  "... and justice for all" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Is an arbitrary standard.

    Huey728 "I'm not really big on calling strangers on the phone, but I felt this election was too important to just sit back and watch." Elections are decided exactly this way; every damned election! GOTV counts... the votes!

    by Nebraska68847Dem on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 11:28:19 AM PDT

  •  Sheheen should run an ad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    pointing out that John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers, was also a defense attorney for the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre. He should point out that justice for all is literally one of our founding stories.

    Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

    by Gygaxian on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 01:09:30 PM PDT

  •  Lawyers don't defend the crime, but the process! (0+ / 0-)
  •  Miscarriage of Justice (0+ / 0-)

    The “S” word - slave
    ahh! propaganda
    a mind buds an infection
    new provocateurs!

    Remedy? (rationalism + empiricism) = “forced labor

    Haley, Graham, Scott and Sanford don't presume to have the garrisoning values of Thomas Sumter or the field experience of Francis Marion, fighters who both opposed British forces, in South Carolina, during the war for independence. Yet, these politicians still cajole, reinforce and shape what performs as a resident colony. Colonies having strong intrastate and interstate connections. Made moot, adversaries select positions on the issue of online gambling.

    Well, this is another reason why the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act meets the larger needs of our society. Moreover, negotiating with an informed public protects the whole population in the advantages the Civil Rights Act gives to a Democratic society. This act clearly tells Americans to watch the courts in how justices "designate the business to be done ..."

    The critical distribution of judicial resources must also utilize unsolicited caseloads (UC's). Often these UC's arise from formal or informal law enforcement investigation (LEI), based on known and unknown factors (Capital Murder, Felony, Civil Tort, etc.). When processes regarding UC's that have national merit get venued out or transferred from a public body that exercises a public law function, it indicates a miscarriage of justice. Reasoning that a Federal jurisdiction does not apply to state matters does not spring the branch from responsibility.

    Enjoy the haiku!

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