JAS: Will Best Lawyers Shy From Representing Accused Criminals?

The U.S. Senate’s blocking at least temporarily the nomination of Debo Adegbile, a respected civil rights lawyer, to a top Justice Department post (see Gavel Grab) has big implications for defenders of fair and impartial courts, Justice at Stake’s Praveen Fernandes said in an interview available on YouTube.

Because some senators voiced opposition based on Adegbile’s having represented a defendant convicted of killing a police officer, such concerns could spill over to other lawyers and  lead to their reticence to handle cases of accused criminals, said Fernandes, who is JAS director of federal affairs and diversity initiatives.

“To the extent that people, lawyers, are being penalized for their representation of criminal defendants, there’s a real concern in the fair courts community that this will lead to bright lawyers avoiding representing criminal defendants,” Fernandes said.

“In some sense, the right to counsel will become illusory if we don’t have lawyers to take these cases,” he added. “I think the worry is that this is part of a long-term erosion of the right to counsel,” also involving past underfunding of Public Defender services and across-the-board federal budget cuts.

Meanwhile at The Atlantic online, Andrew Cohen wrote a piece that was headlined, “What John Roberts Can Say About the Rule of Law and Debo Adegbile: The Senate’s rejection of the nominee for a Justice Department post imperils the bond.”


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