The Champion

February 2009 , Page 5 

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'First thing we do, kill all the [death penalty] lawyers' (President's Column)

By John Wesley Hall

Read more President's Column columns.

'First thing we do, kill all the [death penalty] lawyers'1

Taking a life has serious consequences. This must be so whether it be a criminal defendant or the government. When a government decides that it should kill a criminal for his crime, government should know by now that it will not come easy or cheap.

It is our duty and obligation as criminal defense lawyers to put the government to its proof to make sure that our clients do not suffer the ultimate penalty. The cases articulating ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment in death penalty cases set a high standard of attorney performance.2 The Supreme Court expects us, requires us, to go the extra mile in a death penalty case.

The prosecutors and legislators don’t want us to go the extra mile because we stand in the way of their goal of populating death row. In the politics of the death penalty, politicians still think that anything that facilitates death is good. Lawyers and procedural protections are bad. It plays

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