WHO KILLED SCOTT MACKLEM?
Author’s Note: Every wrongful conviction causes dual torment: the torment of the innocent yet imprisoned individual, and the social torment that the actual perpetrator remains free. This blog focuses primarily on the latter, in the hope that we will gain more knowledge about the murderer of Scott Macklem.
Post #3: Advocacy, Part I
As an attorney, I find it repugnant that the defense attorney appointed to represent the accused person in the murder of Scott Macklem didn’t work harder to assure an acquittal. Scott was 20 years old when he was found shot to death in a parking lot at St. Clair County Community College on November 5, 1986. After one interview with Scott’s pregnant fiancée, the police focused on one individual and one only - the wrong person.
You might believe that the failure of the accused’s attorney to search for the truth was an injustice only to the accused. That is inaccurate. A criminal defense attorney, just like any other attorney is bound by an ethical duty. The Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct provide “[A] lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.” The quality of justice depends inexorably on truth. The defense attorney in this case ignored the truth, allowing an innocent man to be convicted and just as importantly, he allowed a murderer to avoid any suspicion of culpability.
Lawyers in general have a tainted reputation. When it comes to criminal defense attorneys, many people, including some lawyers, feel a certain amount of disgust at the idea that someone could advocate for a criminal. Television shows and movies often portray criminal defense attorneys as “sleezy.” Of course, those entertainment media also portray the accused as undoubtedly guilty, as we sit in anticipation of the announcement of conviction from the jury.
I have no particular opinion about criminal defense attorneys in general. I respect our Constitution which guarantees that the accused are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I respect that the Constitution provides that the accused are entitled to representation. These protections are intended to assure the quality of justice.
Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld share their vision for the challenges before those of us who seek to make our criminal system more just. This video begins about a quarter of the way into their concluding talk at the 2017 Innocence Conference.
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