Friday, November 28, 2008
A Scrupulous DA
"Craig Watkins may be the only prosecutor in America who is making his name getting people out of prison. ... Critics, including some fellow prosecutors, say he seems too eager to besmirch his predecessors' reputations for the sake of a little publicity. They note that politically, these cases are easy targets: None of them were tried by him. 'Where I think he's doing a grave disservice is trying to create this image that the criminal-justice system is fatally flawed and that only people like Craig Watkins can save it,' says Joshua Marquis, the district attorney in Clastrop County, Ore., who serves on the board of the National District Attorneys Association. Mr. Marquis says Mr. Watkins could make other prosecutors' jobs harder by contributing to what he considers to be the public's false impression from TV cop shows that most prosecutors are bloodthirsty and routinely railroad defendants. In fact, he says, the percentage of people who are wrongly convicted is 'very small'. ... While it's true that [Bill Hill, former Dallas DA] and other prosecutors sometimes end up exonerating defendants after they're been convicted, few prosecutors take it upon themselves to review old convictions", Jennifer Forsyth and Leslie Eaton at the WSJ, 15 November 2008.
I agree, most criminals are rightly convicted. So? Suppose one wasn't, how will the system reverse the conviction? Further, I agree prosecutors rarely railroad defendants. They're usually too lazy and try to plea bargain most cases they see. Having been a juror four times, I've seen things in court you would barely believe. Watkins is black. I have a suggestion for Obama: Watkins for Attorney General! He's never worked for a "white-shoe" New York law firm and went to Texas Wesleyan University Law School, not Harvard or Yale! He's qualified.