Dear Editor: While a practicing lawyer in Massachusetts in 1770, John Adams defended — successfully, mostly — eight British soldiers who shot and killed five Americans protesting in Boston. Adams was accused of betrayal by many who were outraged at his legal defense of British soldiers accused of murdering Americans.
For his part, Abraham Lincoln, while practicing law in Illinois, defended a man, Duff Armstrong, successfully on a murder charge. His defense rested in part on challenging the credibility of a witness who may have been telling the truth.
Both men went on to become president of the United States. This would be a poorer and pettier nation had they not.
Our point is that lawyers ought not be judged by their clients. To reject a lawyer because of what his or her clients did, or may have done, is unavoidably to reject due process of law.
Some of us support Matt Flynn in his effort to win the Democratic nomination for governor. Some of us do not. Some of us are unlikely ever to support any Democratic candidate.
But we are united in our belief that attacks on Matt Flynn for no more than doing good work as a lawyer for unpopular clients are unfair and demeaning to the very values for which this country has stood, and should stand always. To disagree with Matt Flynn, or any other candidate, is perfectly fair. Indeed, thoughtful disagreement is essential to American democracy. But to condemn him or any lawyer for serving well the American justice system, whether he represents the popular or the unpopular, the good or the bad, instead denies and threatens the essence of American justice and democracy.
Whether we agree with him on anything else, we will stand with Matt Flynn when he does a lawyer’s work honestly and well for any client, as he has for more than 40 years. In doing so, we stand not for a client’s mistakes or wrongs, but for the lawyer’s sworn duty to uphold due process of law. Others may speak to the contrary. But politics aside, we choose to stand for justice generally and due process specifically, and for those who risk public denunciation to defend all of it — and in doing so, defend all of us.
We are authorized to include the following as co-signers: Stephen E. Bablitch, Michelle A. Behnke, Mark J. Bradley, Jerome F. Buting, Brian E. Butler, Ralph Cagle, Patrick S. Coffey, Mark A. Frankel, Franklyn M. Gimbel, Stephen M. Glynn, Stephen P. Hurley, Professor Michele Lavigne, David W. Simon, John S. Skilton, Professor Carrie Sperling, Professor Adam Stevenson, Kathleen B. Stilling, Dean A. Strang, Paul G. Swanson, Michelle M. Umberger, David G. Walsh, John Walsh, John G. Walsh, Kathleen Walsh, Brady C. Williamson, Jr., Professor Steven H. Wright.
John S. Skilton
Dean A. Strang
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