Tuesday, March 11, 2008

When the Law is An Ass

I am sure that attorneys wonder why their profession has a reputation that is lower than they think it deserves.

The story about Alton Logan serving prison for 26 years for a murder he didn't commit ought to lend a clue.

The lawyers for another man admitted he had killed the security guard for which Alton Logan has been arrested.

But, under the terms of client-lawyer privilege, the two attorneys of the real murderer couldn't tell.

Until their guy died.

Which was 26 years later.

In jail.

Alton Logan is 54 now.

Oh, the two lawyers say they agonized over their secret.

And they should have.

Now the lawyers—judges are lawyers, remember— just can't figure out how to get him out of state prison.

I am sure there are still lawyers and judges who think they serve a noble purpose, rather than just make a very good buck.

It is they who should figure out a way to make sure the rules of confidentiality don't allow future Alton Logans to end up serving time in Stateville in order for them to follow their profession's vaunted ethical standards.

And, yes, my use of the word “vaunted” is sarcastic as it applies to this atrocious miscarriage of justice.

= = = = =
The pictures of Alton Logan come from the Illinois Department of Corrections web site. Posted first on McHenry County Blog.

11 comments:

ollie 12:00 PM  

Thanks for the story.

This is an outrage.

Skeeter 12:11 PM  

" am sure there are still lawyers and judges who think they serve a noble purpose, rather than just make a very good buck."

All lawyers are at fault?

Because one is unjustly convicted?

What is it with the conspiracy theories around this site recently?

Every time I think Illinoize has hit a new low, something like this appears.

Sure the conviction was a tragedy and sure something should be done. But to blame all lawyers as Skinner does is just paranoid or ignorant.

Stanley,  12:13 PM  

Those People's Law Office lawyers are real scumbags. They are cop hating, criminal leaving, communist and anarchist influenced scumbags.

The Loewy law firm got 1 million and their client got less. What a deal.

The People's Law office and lawyer scumbag liar extraiordinaire Flint Taylor was representing the killer scumbag Wilsons who let innocent men rot in prison.

Yes this why people hate lawyers.

Anonymous,  12:23 PM  

I have to agree with these lawyers, although with great hesitation. Even if they had talked 26 years ago, what they said their evidence was would not have been allowed in the courts. Even if they talked it might have done more harm than good. That evidence would've been thrown out and couldn't even be used now. But by waiting until their client died ending the client relationship, they now can use the evidence.

I know it doesn't feel right to me either but I don't see how these lawyers could've helped if this evidence would have been thrown out anyway.

The real lawyers I think we should be upset with are the prosecutors that convicted this innocent man. Who are they? Was this during Daley's SA administration? Which cops and lawyers were the ones throwing the book at this innocent man? Are they still government employed right now? Why?

I'd like to see the focus put on those lawyers that put this innocent man behind bars to begin with. That happens way too much in Illinois for us to ignore it in a case like this one.

Anonymous,  2:20 PM  

And they wonder why there are so many derogatory lawyer jokes?
These two lawyers could have "leaked" this information which they were aware of to a member of the Press whom they could trust. The reason that they didn't had "NOTHING" to do with ideals or the nobleness of their profession (which is right next to Prostitution-but, of course, only for the right price). These two lawyers kept their mouths shut because "they could care less" about some black guy who wound up taking a fall for something that he didn't do. It wasn't their problem! By the way, I am a white guy who calls things as they really are and not as to how others would rather believe them to be.

These two lawyers simply did not want to risk losing or having their law licenses suspended because they failed to obey the "attorney/client privilege". Money and their law licenses meant more to them than some innocent black guy named Logan Alton "who didn't mean squat to them".

I realize that there is probably a decent lawyer (perhaps even two) out there that would have had the guts and integrity to speak out on behalf of Logan Alton, no matter what the cost to themselves in order to protect an innocent man. But, we don't hear from many of them, do we? That is why I struggle to cast my vote for any attorney that has ever run for any elected public office. I feel that (unfortunately) I know what motivates most of them to serve in public office. And, it isn't nobleness of character. Thank God for attorneys like Patrick Fitzgerald and the late Mr. Mars for reaffirming my faith in members of the legal system with it's many flaws.
Cal Skinner is simply speaking the truth (which is something that seems to get caught in the throat of many lawyers).

Anonymous,  2:26 PM  

Would leaking it to the press have really kept Alton Logan out of jail? I just don't know if that is true since the admission of guilt by their client would not have been admissable in court. I'm not a lawyer but it makes sense. I'd like to think there was some way these lawyers could have prevented this but I don't see it with how our laws and courts are operated.

Cal Skinner 3:03 PM  

What specifically are the lawyers who are complaining going to do to change their profession's ethical standards so something like cannot happen again?

Legislators can't rectify the situation, right?

If I an wrong, please correct me and I am sure some legislator will rush to pass corrective legislation.

Anonymous,  3:23 PM  

Flint Taylor, Joey Mogul, Locke Bowman and some of the rest at the PLO, Northwestern and other places are conniving liars who in it for the money and hate cops and hate the US. They are terrible despicable people who make our streets more dangerous and our taxes higher from them picking them.

Anonymous,  3:23 PM  

To anonymous at 2:26 PM: I am not sure if "leaking it to the Press" would have kept Alton Logan out of jail. And, perhaps it might not have been admissable in court. However, I truly believe that if the Truth had been presented by the Press to the citizens of the state and other members of the legal profession, that "somehow, somewhere, and sometime" the Power of the Press and Public Outrage would have won over an unjust and immoral act that was allowed to take place upon an innocent man.

I may be naive but I honestly believe that there are members of the legal profession still out there that truly have a noble spirit (such as Patrick Fitzgerald) and that they would have (if necessary)fought to change a flawed law in their attempt to protect an innocent man.

Skeeter 9:24 AM  

This post shows the problem with the way the GOP approaches matters.

Rather than simply saying "This result was wrong, and the rule is wrong", Skinner had to go further and conclude that all lawyers must be evil.

One does not follow from the other.

Extreme Wisdom 2:58 PM  

Cal,

I believe that the legislature could carve out an exception to atty/client priviedge.

Licensing is a state matter, and the state could simply allow for an exception in this type of circumstance.

As for Skeeter's point of lambasting all lawyers, he may be right. OTOH, as a lawyer, I can tell you that the atty/client privilege is sold as the holiest of holies in law school. You will be looked down on as a person if you question it openly.

The response by the person above is instructive.

In the case at hand, the injustice is so obscene, that any profession that would argue that it must hold - even here - should be questioned in totality, not just individually.

The irony and hypocrisy would be funny if not so sad. The same profession that argues "better that 500 criminals go free rather than 1 innocent man go to jail" (more law school dogma) quickly reverses course when that principle calls on them to risk their career(s) to save an innocent man's life.

To those who ask whether I expect that a person should risk a huge investment in career, schooling, stature to prevent an innocent man from life in jail, the answer is "yes, I do."

That anyone would even ask that question that is a sign of the depths of narcsissism our culture has sunk to.

[Note: I'm licensed to practice law, but don't, so my "legal" opinion may lack accuracy. My moral opinion is dead on.]

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