Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The joys of working with juveniles.

Oh my, is it ever a journey. I had a "first" yesterday - I was honestly hit on by one of my clients. That leads me to believe that I may be conducting myself in a manner that does not appropriately demonstrate the professional distinction between myself and my clients. Hey, I'm glad he's comfortable in my presence and all, but whoa. At first I thought he was much older but when I verified his birthdate today, it made me feel better. If he had been as old as I thought he was, it would have been much more worrisome. I'm trying to be really careful with my words and actions now.

In the NY Times today, there is an article about a young man who was charged as an adult at he age of 17 for the murder of his parents. Apparently he gave a confession that was manipulated out of him. I adamantly believe that juvenile confessions should be presumptively invalid because they cannot knowingly waive their rights, and it looks like this case is just another example.

4 comments:

C Dog said...

Now this, to me, is the best argument against the death penalty: the justice system is fallible. Conservatives, especially, should know that any time the government is in charge of a program--be it welfare, medicare, education, utlities, etc.--it fucks it up. Why should the government all of the sudden be infallible when it comes to determining guilt in a criminal trial? Jailhouse snitches, coerced confessions (videotaping ALL confessions would go a long way to alleviate this problem), dirty cops, mistaken identifications (notoriously unreliable)--all lead to false convictions. Death, unlike every other punishment, is final.

Nobody buys, "The defendant was so poor/mentally challenged/beaten by his dad/called mean names at school/was on welfare/didn't have steak as a child." Frankly, nobody really cares. Nobody cares that it's not a deterrant, either (which it isn't). And the public (and current Supreme Court doctrine) doesn't give two hoots about the racial imbalances.

Nobody cares when guilty people die. Innocence, however, is the best hope for the cause.

C Dog said...

As for "children"'s confessions being presumptively unreasonable, two points: (1) 17 year olds are not children, and (2) Cote, you, and I all had high school degrees at 17, and Cote and you were college freshman at 17.

C Dog said...

And why should 17 year old "children" be free to get abortions without parental consent (or even 12 year olds, as NOW, the ACLU, and Planned Parenthood argue)?

WomanoftheLaw said...

Sweet merciful crap, you are contentious. So you're telling me that at age 17, because you were in a dorm room at college and entire 4 minutes away from the house that you grew up in your entire life, this means that you were absolutely able to knowingly and intelligently waive your rights? Dude, I went to high school AND college with you. And I would argue otherwise.

Additionally, 17 year olds are children. You yourself argued that a consistent age needs to be set at which the priviliges of adulthood kick in. I couldn't vote for school board rep when I went to college. But the police sure wouldn't have minded if I had incriminated myself such that I was facing 20 years to life, right?

I'll concede that innocence may be the best hope for abolishing the death penalty because indeed, the system is fallible. I strongly believe that part of the fallacy of the system is that the people most likely to be executed, by a significant margin, are poor black men with white victims who live in the South. And when their parents were beating them or too strung out to take care of them, and 6 year olds started trying to figure out how to take care of themselves, no one cared and no one wanted to do anything. And every time someone is executed, they are executing that 6 year old for doing the best he could to just get by. And no one cared about him until he commits an act that is the ultimate manifestation of circumstances beyond his control.