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One Criminal-Defense Attorney’s Lament: Scott Greenfield argues that innocents are being sacrificed in the name of utopian causes

[theatlantic.com – 11/21/18]

For more than a decade, the criminal-defense attorney Scott H. Greenfield has been writing about American law and culture at Simple Justice. Among the site’s readers are lawyers, law professors, judges, civil libertarians, and advocates of criminal-justice reform. What keeps me coming back is his zealous advocacy for a consistent set of principles no matter how unpopular their application might be in a given instance.

Whether I agree or strongly disagree with where he comes down on a given matter, I can count on his steadfast commitment to an underlying ethos. And in many instances that helps me to see what is at stake more clearly. Last month, I asked whether he would be willing to do an interview to discuss his growing concern with turns that American culture has taken. Here is a lightly condensed and edited version of our correspondence.

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  1. R M

    Excellent article!

    Some points from Scott:

    “… there is no appeal from the court of public opinion.”

    “Once someone believes, “motivated cognition” takes over and we argue our point to the bitter end, no matter how wrong we may factually be.”

    “Many have not, and don’t let the absence of facts, or actual knowledge, get in the way of their believing what they choose to believe…”

    How do we change peoples minds?

  2. Chris f

    I wish judges would read this and actually be spurred into doing their job. Unfortunately state elected judges are just as bad as politicians and risk losing their jobs if they do. Its a shame states wont fix that as voters will never give up their lynch mob powers.

    • David

      @Chris: “The Atlantic” is a nationally-known and distributed publication of writings on, among other things, important contemporary issues facing society. I suspect that quite a few law students, lawyers and judges – maybe even some lawmakers – will, in fact, read this excellent article.

    • Dustin

      Small correction – state elected judges ARE politicians, every bit as much as legislators or any other official whose job relies on elections, regardless of title or duties.

      The whole purpose of appointing federal judges is so that their judicial opinions and rulings are based on law as opposed to the politics of the moment. It’s a shame that the states only followed suit with their state appellate courts and left local superior/criminal benches to the ballot box. I would think the number of those convicted via politics overall would be relatively low, but willing to bet the number of sex offenses so convicted would be a very high percentage of it.

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