Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Don't You Like Me? (Redux)

Yesterday, I speculated about why folks don't like lawyers very much. As part of one theory, I argued that:

The new[s] focuses on the sensational cases and big personalities. From that folks get the impression that . . . all criminal defense attorneys are lying weasels who will do anything to get their obviously guilty client off . . .
When I wrote that, I had no idea that a perfect example was playing out just across the street from my office in state court. Thomas Gravely was convicted of multiple sex offenses for raping three prostitutes. Gravely gave a videotaped statement to the police in which he admitted raping prostitutes at knife point. Faced with that, his lawyer went ugly:
Ed ReBrook, Gravely's defense attorney, called no witnesses. But he summed up his case in a dramatic closing argument to jurors during which he called the victims 'tramps' and 'whores.'

'You cannot rape the willing,' ReBrook said. 'They got in those automobiles with the intention of having sex for money.

'I would be horrified if any of the women in my life were raped, but I'm talking about decent, honorable women,' ReBrook said, and then dramatically raised his voice. 'Not whores who have sex with many, many men for money.'

* * *

'They are not like your wife, your girlfriend or your daughter,' he said. 'They are street tramps. And what happened to them was, at least in part, their fault.
Obviously, that backfired and the jury didn't buy it. It's also a paradigmatic example of why people think so lowly of defense attorneys.

Honestly, while I'm sympathetic to the plight of a defense lawyer searching for a defense in a losing case, I don't even see the legal theory ReBrook was hitting at. Sexual consent, assuming it was freely given in the first place, can always been withdrawn at any time, whether the woman (or man, for that matter) is your wife, one-night hookup, or a hooker. The "she's mine to do with as I please" standard hasn't existed for decades.

No comments: