Another campaign ad targets criminal defense

Last week I criticized a South Carolina campaign ad that attacked a gubernatorial candidate because of his prior work as a criminal defense attorney. Here’s another one, this time from Georgia, attacking Georgia House Speaker David Ralston. It’s sponsored by the Georgia Integrity Project, a 501(c)4 that describes itself as, “Activists from 50 tea parties across Georgia and conservative groups like Georgia Right To Life, Georgia Conservatives in Action and the Chattahoochee Republican Women’s Club.” The interesting thing here is that Ralston is a Republican.

The same criticisms I made about the South Carolina ad apply here. These are broadsides on the very ideas of criminal defense, the right to an attorney and the presumption of innocence. A criminal defense attorney has a legal and ethical obligation to provide a zealous defense of his client. That includes exploring and exploiting legal and legislative “loopholes.”

Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces."

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Radley Balko · May 2, 2014