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Larry Nassar – the Sentencing, and the Defense

I watched with interest the TV coverage of Larry Nassar’s sentencing, the pervert doctor who sexually assaulted young female gymnasts. Allegedly. Until he entered a guilty plea.

Then it was for sure.

Which is why his defense attorney’s attitude may have perplexed some viewers. He seemed upset and wanted to complain. He spoke about the Constitution and ‘whined’ about the way he had been treated by the public.

But I got it. Been there, done that, got a closet full of t-shirts.

He was lost in his case, plugged into all he had left, the Constitution and its protections, and the World can go to… well, you get it. After all, he was the only human being on Earth standing between all of the public hatred on one side and his client, the Devil Incarnate, on the other.

That, and the fact that some jerk had just emailed him, as he sat there in court, and threatened to kill his wife and kids. Nice. No wonder he was invoking the Constitution.

He needed some protection. I sincerely hope these were only empty threats.

We’ve all dealt with it. Those of us who do “the Bigs”. Big cases with high stakes for our clients, years in prison on the line, and prosecution witnesses who are determined to send them away for life.

It can get intense sometimes.

How is it that lawyers can be so far removed from the Zeitgeist when they represent clients in these cases, standing up for them while everyone else screams bloody murder?

Easy. It’s what we do.

And for those of you who wind up charged with crimes, you know you are happy that we do it. Our job is to look at cases as objectively as possible, divorcing ourselves from our emotions and biases and prejudices, and to just think like a machine.

Yes, without a soul, some say; that might get in the way.

But, you see, that is the entire point. Our criminal justice system is designed to make sure that no one is convicted unless they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury. How is that supposed to happen if the lawyers out there representing all these presumably innocent people decided they didn’t believe in all this constitutional mumbo jumbo and just walked away?

Because guess what? NOT EVERYONE ACCUSED OF A CRIME IS GUILTY. Sorry for the ALL CAPS – it’s important.

This is why I worry when I see the Harvey Weinsteins and the Nassars of the world. These monsters are making it virtually impossible for accused persons to get a fair trial. Anyone accused of a sex offense is now presumed 100% guilty. Any accuser: truthful. Any defense: a lie. Defense attorneys receiving death threats as they sit there in court, doing their best to protect the Constitutional principles we lawyers are all sworn to uphold.

It’s not right.

Witnesses can lie. It’s a fact. Defendants can be innocent. Another fact: they are presumed innocent until and unless they plead guilty, or are found guilty by a fair and impartial jury.

But even guilty people deserve to be represented by competent lawyers, who are willing to ignore public opinion and outrage and look at cases objectively and critically, without emotion.

And who knows?

Maybe some poor totally innocent soul everyone thought was guilty goes free. Worse things could happen, like locking that same poor innocent person up in prison for life. Which is why our criminal justice system is the finest in the world.

I just hope we can keep it that way.