Vermont Bar Journal
Spring 2007 - #9.
For the Public Good
THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL SPRING 2007
For the Public Goodby Samuel Hoar, Jr., Esq.Though somewhat removed now, end, Adams's decision was vindicated: the the Cully Stimson controversy offers an colonial jury found seven of his nine clients opportunity for all of us to reexamine not guilty; the other two were found guilty our commitment to the rule of law, and only of manslaughter. But the immediate the role we all play in preserving that result of the trial is not the point. Instead, vital value. You may recall that early in we should ask what legitimacy would have the year, Mr. Stimson, himself a lawyer attached to the process had there been and a senior official of the Department nobody to speak for the defendants? of Defense, made comments that many As the United States Supreme Court interpreted as a veiled effort to intimidate lawyers or otherwise to discourage them from representing Guantanamo detainees. After a flurry of public criticism, Mr. Stimson published a letter of apology. But neither his apology, nor the passage of time, should end the conversation. Instead, we should use it as an opportunity to reexamine, and reaffirm, the bedrock principles of our system of justice, and to recommit ourselves to the role we all play in that system.
It may be a natural initial reaction to question, or even to criticize, the lawyer who takes on an unpopular client or cause. Yet the right to be represented by an effective attorney before an impartial tribunal is crucial to the success of our justice system. To preserve our way of life we must preserve the rule of law. But unless we maintain the integrity of the justice system, conflicts will no longer be resolved according to the rule of law.
Access to competent counsel--central to the rule of law--is a fundamental tenet of our legal tradition, with deep roots in the common law. On our continent, six years before the Declaration of Independence, John Adams agreed to defend the British officer and soldiers charged with murder in the Boston Massacre. Adams later wrote:
The Part I took in Defence of Cptn. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I...