So I’ll just pick at Scott a bit, then.
What’s comment worthy about the SJ take on this is not so much the directly relevant portion, but rather the part where SHG segues into his dogmatic, moral relativist tripe:
…you [i.e., prosecutors] believe that your side stands for truth and justice. Accordingly, the other side does not…..And this is the biggest lie of all. Neither prosecutor nor defense lawyer sits at the right hand of God. Both are needed to bring anything remotely resembling fairness and accuracy to a deeply flawed system, and even when both sides do their job properly, it’s still haphazard at best. But to believe that one side owns righteousness is delusional. You are but a cog in the wheel, as are defense lawyers, and judges as well…..And anyone who tells you anything different is lying.
These thoughts are buried deep in Scott Greenfield’s consciousness. They are as natural to him, apparently, as breathing: nobody’s right, nobody’s wrong; justice is a delusion; so is truth.
In fact, this view is well beyond simple relativism (which might be a better title for the SJ blog, now that I think of it); it is nihilism. SHG is, or pretends to be, a nihilist.
And the corollary to this is – well – interesting: a denial of responsibility. Nothing means anything, really, so we’re all just cogs in the wheel. That applies even to judges. And presumably jurors. And appellate judges.
This being the case one wonders why SHG bothers to say anything. That’s a question I should think he might have pondered during his hiatus. For a nihilist it’s impossible to say anything meaningful, because nothing has any meaning.
It also raises questions about just what SHG thinks he’s doing when he represents a client. I could make an argument that nihilists should not be admitted to the bar.
Fortunately, nobody is really a nihilist, not even Scott. He just talks (and writes) that way. But all the nihilist rhetoric has had an impact on the profession over the years. That’s another question Mr. Greenfield should confront at some point.
More charitably, perhaps the place SHG winds up intellectually is not so much nihilism proper as it is a reflexive and learned agnosticism. Skepticism and agnosticism are probably appropriate most of the time when litigating criminal matters.
But not always. Sometimes the truth can be known, and is known. Willful blindness to it out of a misguided and reflexive agnosticism isn’t part of the solution; it’s part of the problem. When one party to a dispute is clearly right and the other is clearly wrong, mindlessly maintaining a dogmatic agnosticism – and that’s when it resembles nihilism – is just cheating one party out of what they are entitled to.
Isn’t that right?