A reader opines:
"Murderous immorality" should be punished, no matter the expense, no matter the offender, and no matter how unpopular the process. What many a poster have ineffectually expressed, because their concerns are frequently masked by their prejudices against prosecutors in general, is that it is equally indefensible when a prosecutor lacks the internal fortitude to be guided by his heart and his brain, acting in tandem. Neither inexperience or naivete have any effect whatsoever on any lawyer's ability to conduct himself in accordance with the highest professional, and human, standards. Mr. Laeser, while arguably unimpeachable as an independent entity within the larger SAO machine, is likely unaware of the oft repeated, legitimate complaints of non-whiny defense attorneys who are frustrated by the unassailable and intractable problem of prosecutors who are unwilling to confront their superiors to suggest that a particular case must be abandoned, or that for humanity's sake, and for the sake of preserving the meaning of "perspective," even a guilty defendant doesn't always merit all available and legally defensible punishments. Sometimes the rationale for mercy is not grounded in caselaw or strategy; sometimes the rationale, if nothing more, is rooted by the weakest of roots, that common thread that makes us all human, that acknowledgment that perfection is unattainable, sin is unavoidable, and punishment can take many forms. Legitimate verbal assaults upon the process take form only when the defenders of the accused among us confront an unbending, unsympathetic, detached machine, one designed and implemented for the sole purpose of meting out punishment to the maximum available under the law. The seekers of justice on the government's side can and should do their jobs with more in mind than that.
Rumpole responds that all day we have been bothered by Mr. Laeser’s comment:
I must be cruel to be kind - my job is to seek Justice without regard to the final result, yours may be over at getting your client acquitted -- even if that is a not what objective Justice would truly mean.
Here is what is troubling us: what is the definition of justice as used by Mr. Laeser if not “the final result”? Let us delve a little into epistemology.
Is not justice an end in and of itself? The problem is when a prosecutor , and especially a prosecutor of the stature and experience of Mr. Laeser does not define justice as an end. We think he is defining justice as the process. And yet, because we are talking about real people with real lives, is not justice what happens to those people?
Justice, from a prosecutor’s standpoint may well end in incarceration or even execution. And we can agree that in many cases (overlooking the hornets nest of executions for the moment) that when that occurs, justice is done.
Would a prosecutor who saw a guilty man go free call that justice? Of course not, and we would agree with that as well.
The next question is whether it is just to incarcerate or execute every guilty person? And the answer is “No” and every prosecutor would or should agree with that.
So “Justice” must be the result and not just the process. And if Mr. Laeser does not agree with that, then we are troubled. Because when the result is not considered, that is when prosecutors start shrugging their shoulders when a person gets incarcerated for 20 years for a third degree felony, or when a person who has lived in the US for 25 years and raised a law abiding family gets deported for a 20 year old adjudication at bond hearings for possession of cocaine.
Justice must include the end result in a case, and if a prosecutor is empowered to seek justice then we believe our current complaints are entirely valid. Prosecutors today are not looking at the end result. They are shrugging their shoulders when the end result of a case is un-just. They are accepting the process as justice and not considering the results. For that matter, many judges espousing the “conservative” point of view are just as guilty. The judge who says “I do not get involved in plea negotiations” is not interested in justice, just the process. The judge who sentences every defendant convicted of a crime to the maximum amount of incarceration (and you robed readers know who you are) is not interested in justice, just the process.
Every time a prosecutor listens to a defense attorney’s explanation and agrees to waive a minimum mandatory, they are seeking justice. Every time a prosecutor listens to a defense attorneys explanation and considers it and does not waive the minimum mandatory, they are seeking justice as well. But every time a prosecutor says “no my job man” and does not consider the individual facts and circumstances of a case and refuses to waive any minimum mandatory, or any time a prosecutor seeks an adjudication on every single case after one withhold, they have abandoned the most important job they have been given: to seek justice.
This is what we really meant to write to Mr. Laeser this afternoon, but with the phone ringing with bill collectors and such, we couldn’t properly express out thoughts.
See you in court.