Diane Dimond: How Could Any Lawyer Represent the 9/11 Terrorists?

I like Diane, but this is just a silly question. The short answer to her question, how could any lawyer represent one of the 9/11 defendants, as I repeatedly stated during my representation of Timothy McVeigh, is simple: "With pride and dedication." Even the TL kid, a high school senior at the time, worked on the McVeigh defense team for its leader Stephen Jones.

It was a great introduction to the criminal defense lawyer way of thinking, and I'm sure contributed in large part (along with his having interned at Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld's Innocent Project) to the development of his passion for helping the underdog, the person accused of a serious federal crime, and led him to become a criminal defense attorney in his own right last year.

One of my biggest accomplishments as a parent was to teach this lesson and others like them to my child, who now has them embedded within him. It's not an act. They have become his values too.

I feel the same way today. Were I called upon to represent one of the 9/11 detainees (unlikely since I'm in Denver and they will be in Illinois or New York), I'd jump at the opportunity.

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    Her unwavering witch hunt (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 12:39:23 AM EST
    against Michael Jackson stopped me from paying attention to anything she says. The question seems very Diane Dimond to me.

    How Can You Represent One of "Them"? (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by john horse on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 06:03:13 AM EST
    Most of us stereotype and divide groups into "us" and "them".  However, this tendency can lead to great evil.  To the southerner slavery was justifiable because they saw slaves as property, they one of "them", not one of "us".  Hitler could justify the Holocaust because the Nazis saw Jews as one of "them", not one of "us".  Once you deny any people their humanity you open the door to your own inhumanity.  

    So, what Diane Dimond is asking how can you represent one of "them"?  

    How can any lawyer not? (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 07:13:01 AM EST
    Given our legal history of railroading the innocent along with the guilty, how can any lawyer not?  I've learned a lot lately where Malik Hasan is concerned.  At first on the tube it was three possilbe shooters, they were even arresting people off post in the early hours after the shooting.  Then upset people were asking the craziest questions about how a weapon could make its way onto a military base or post....as if such places are virtual prisons and everything we say, do, and possess must be tightly controlled and those who serve should be subject to cavity searches everyday at the front gates.  After Hasan, I witnessed the shooting in Washington state immediately stir up contemplation before they came to understand who likely did that, that we had more soldiers shooting people up. I want the best lawyer we can find to represent Hasan.  It is too scary what the public desires to believe that could remain under stones not turned with an incompetent attorney!  The truth shall set us all free in whatever respect we can be completely free, therefore I will do everything in my power to know the whole truth.  There is danger in the fog!

    You would think (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Steve M on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:45:03 AM EST
    that we wouldn't still be having this debate, 200+ years after John Adams defended the British soldiers from the Boston Massacre.

    Adams' diary entry from that trial (none / 0) (#16)
    by jbindc on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:51:03 AM EST
    March 5, 1773:
    (The third anniversary of the Boston Massacre)

    "I. . .devoted myself to endless labour and Anxiety if not to infamy and death, and that for nothing, except, what indeed was and ought to be all in all, sense of duty. In the Evening I expressed to Mrs. Adams all my Apprehensions:That excellent Lady, who has always encouraged me, burst into a flood of Tears, but said she was very sensible of all the Danger to her and to our Children as well as to me, but she thought I had done as I ought, she was very willing to share in all that was to come and place her trust in Providence.

    "Before or after the Tryal, Preston sent me ten Guineas and at the Tryal of the Soldiers afterwards Eight Guineas more, which were. . .all the pecuniary Reward I ever had for fourteen or fifteen days labour, in the most exhausting and fatiguing Causes I ever tried: for hazarding a Popularity very general and very hardly earned: and for incurring a Clamour and popular Suspicions and prejudices, which are not yet worn out and never will be forgotten as long as History of this Period is read...It was immediately bruited abroad that I had engaged for Preston and the Soldiers, and occasioned a great clamour....

    "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 ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right.

    "This however is no Reason why the Town should not call the Action of that Night a Massacre, nor is it any Argument in favour of the Governor or Minister, who caused them to be sent here. But it is the strongest Proofs of the Danger of Standing Armies."

    He did so proudly, yet still knowing they were guilty as sin and that the government was right to prosecute them.



    Our system requires people like yourself Jeralyn (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by cawaltz on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:52:16 AM EST
    and I'm glad that you do what you do. I may not always agree with the alleged behaviors of your clients but I will always agree that every individual should be entitled to mount a defense against accusations. As kdog points out above to allow for less could potentially change our system into one that fundamentally encourages tyrannical behavior.

    Gee (5.00 / 0) (#19)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 09:03:53 AM EST
    Gee, how can anyone represent anyone?

    Some people want to make our system of justice about being guilty before proven innocent.  Diane is apparently one of those.

    Just a g*d damned piece of paper to many (none / 0) (#2)
    by 1980Ford on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 01:03:06 AM EST
    And respects, mucho respects, to you and everyone else in the defense bar that is the real thin (blue?) line. Thank you one and all.

    How about .... (none / 0) (#3)
    by nyrias on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 02:55:56 AM EST
    "Were I called upon to represent one of the 9/11 detainees (unlikely since I'm in Denver and they will be in Illinois or New York), I'd jump at the opportunity."

    How about ... a child molester and murderer who you KNOW for sure is guilty (lots of physical evidence, for example)?

    I certainly am all for helping those who are WRONGLY accused of crimes, particular HIDEOUS crimes.

    But not all of the accused are innocent, aren't they?

    Think of it this way.... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:39:24 AM EST
    the defense attorney isn't defending a terrorist or child molester, they are defending our very way of life and the principles we hold so dear...innocent until proven guilty, the right to a trial and rigorous defense...without people willing to defend those accused of the most heinous crimes, even if known beyond any doubt guilty, we don't have any semblance of a justice system, we have a tyranny system.  

    But ... (none / 0) (#23)
    by nyrias on Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 06:19:41 AM EST
    "innocent proven guilty" by whom?

    If you know for SURE that his client is guilty of murder (or child molestation, pick any hideous crime), will you still try to get your client off, say, on a technicality?

    Does our way of life depending on lawyers fighting to get criminals, they know for sure, off?

    If you believe you client is innocent, i am 100% for you doing anything to get him off. But I am not sure our way of life depends on it if otherwise.


    Protecting every person's right to a fair (5.00 / 0) (#20)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 09:19:12 AM EST
    trial is essential in our system and culture. The defense attorneys are that protection. Doesn't mean they are trying to put them back on the streets if they are dangerous.

    Most aren't (none / 0) (#9)
    by jbindc on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:06:46 AM EST
    Nor does it matter (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:16:49 AM EST
    to a defense lawyer whether someone "did it" or not.

    Yes (none / 0) (#11)
    by jbindc on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:29:18 AM EST
    But the question was asked.

    And.... (none / 0) (#12)
    by Chuck0 on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:31:37 AM EST
    you know this, how????

    mmmm.... (none / 0) (#14)
    by jbindc on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:43:49 AM EST
    Eventualy confessions, criminal defense attorneys telling me so, a better faith in the jury system than most around here....

    Unless you believe that most people who are arrested/tried/convicted are really innocent...?


    the real question is (none / 0) (#4)
    by diogenes on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 05:56:52 AM EST
    How could any lawyer represent the prosecution in one of a thousand cases?  I trust that the DA's of the country also would work "with pride and dedication" and that the values that support the legal system support both sides of the system.  If Timothy McVeigh deserves a defense (although you knew his guilt) then surely someone who is arrested deserves to have someone on the other side of the case pursuing prosecution even if many think he might be "innocent".  After all, it's all about the legal system deciding, isn't it?  

    "I like Diane" (none / 0) (#7)
    by Andreas on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:00:40 AM EST
    I have read her article and wonder how one can like such a person.

    Because I've met her (none / 0) (#21)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:03:40 AM EST
    many times when we used to debate each other on cable news channels and she's very nice.

    Defending someone does not always mean (none / 0) (#8)
    by marcnj on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:03:36 AM EST
    fighting for their release.  I've always thought that defending someone who, for example, admitted guilt meant getting the best possible outcome for the client while still allowing justice to be served.  

    it means (none / 0) (#22)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:06:06 AM EST
    holding the Government to its burden of proving each and every element of the charged offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. Trials are not a search for the truth, they are a testing of the evidence.

    Yes, it also means obtaining a plea bargain if the client wants one and protecting their rights during that process.


    What I've thought too... (none / 0) (#17)
    by DancingOpossum on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:51:26 AM EST
    My understanding is that the defense lawyer is not required to get a client "off," especially if they know the client is guilty, but to ensure that the trial is fair and justice served.

    But IANAL, I just work with/for them--and I happen to really like lawyers, which apparently makes me an anomaly :)

    Kudos to Jeralyn for instilling those wonderful values in her kid.