Not quite 240 years ago, John Adams, at the time a young lawyer, was asked to defend the British soldiers who had fired on a mob of demonstrators and mortally wounded five of them.Something tells me Mr. Stimson's brief interview isn't going to fade away any time soon.
The event, which came to be known as the Boston Massacre, was as divisive as today's question of what to do about suspected terrorists.
A lawyer with political aspirations — Adams would go on to be elected the nation's second president — Adams could have refused to represent the unpopular British soldiers. But he knew that would have violated a fundamental principle — namely, that every person accused of a crime deserves a defense.
Adams took the case, at great personal peril, and in summation offered the jury some advice that remains especially relevant today in the cases against detainees at Guantanamo.
"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. . . . To your candor and justice I submit the prisoners and their cause," he said.
We were reminded of Adams' dilemma, and his choice, when we read recently the shocking remarks of Charles Stimson, a lawyer who serves as deputy assistant secretary of defense.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Nearly a week later...
... and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles Stimson is still in the news. There's a host of pieces, mostly op/ed in nature. My favorite: Constitutional law is apparently easy to forget from the Arizona Star in Tucson.