Thursday, January 05, 2006

The undignified, ugly thrashing of Judge Jones

One can just hope that this is the final wail of a dying movement (please, God, deliver us from these people), but the intelligent design crowd can't resist thrashing Judge Jones for his decision in the Dover case. Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum and John West of the Discovery Institute are the latest, but at least they learned something from the trial. Like the Dover School Board members before them, they both use misinformation to make their point.

First, Phyllis, whose column "False judge makes mockery of case for 'intelligent design'" has all sorts of problems, but here is one of the more obvious:
He lashed out at witnesses who expressed religious views different from his own, displaying a prejudice unworthy of our judiciary. He denigrated several officials because they "staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public."

There's one slight problem there, Phyl. You didn't put the quote in context. Here's what Judge Jones actually wrote in the opinion:
It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

And it is equally ironic that Phyl then took the quote out of context to misinform her readers.

Then there's West, who wrote this at "Are the newsmedia reinventing Judge Jones?" (nice grammar, by the way):
In addition, Judge Jones does not seem in sync with most conservatives' attitudes toward crime and punishment. During his confirmation hearings, he spoke with pride about defending a murderer of a twelve-year old boy and how he was able to get the murderer spared from the death penalty:

I served for 10 years, Madam Chairwoman, as an assistant public defender in Schuylkill County, and so very frequently I found myself enmeshed in unpopular areas representing unpopular people. In particular, in 1989, I represented an individual who was alleged to have murdered a 12-year-old boy. It was, as you can imagine, coming from a small town, a highly charged atmosphere. We had a week-long trial. I represented him throughout in a most difficult circumstance, with the community at large very much against him. He was convicted. I was able to keep him from suffering the death penalty in that case... I was very proud to do that as an assistant public defender consistent with my obligations as an attorney.

The Questionable Authority did a great job picking up on this one.
Desperate, pathetic, and disgusting- DI's West on Judge Jones
What West did was to selectively omit material, resulting in a passage that looks like it means something a bit different from what the author actually said.

To see the omission, see QA's post. He goes on:
Jones' isn't saying that he's proud that he kept the guy off of death row, he's saying that he was proud to take on an unpopular case because that was his duty as a public defender.

And it was his duty, and he should be proud of that. This country was not founded with the sort of "fry 'em all and let God sort it out mentality" that seems to be promoted by some these days. The founders of this country deliberately decided to use a justice system based on an assumption of innocence, and to make sure that anyone accused of a crime was entitled to a proper defense. Supporting that powerful principle should not be a mark of "liberalism," or indicate that someone doesn't have the "right" view of crime and punishment. Supporting the right of anyone accused of a crime to an adequate defense should be - is - an American Value.

A lawyer who is providing the defense for an accused criminal has the same obligation to the client whether he or she was hired by the accused or assigned the case as a public defender. That obligation is simple and clear: the lawyer must defend the client to the best of their abilities. Nothing less should be acceptable.

John West has become so desparate for ammunition to use to attack the decision and the judge that he is apparently willing to resort to dishonesty and false witness. In this case, he has overstepped the bounds of human decency. He has tried to take a lawyer's account of doing the right thing for a client - a lawyer demonstrating the ideals of the American justice system - and twist it into a "soft on crime" attack.

No elaboration needed. QA nailed it.

Andy in the HBG


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