Gamso v. Greenfield (Updated)

Is the Innocence Project anything more than a pain in the ass?

One of the dirty little secrets of those who sit on the far side of the courtroom from the jury is that the Innocence Project makes our efforts harder.  You see, the idea that an innocent person has been wrongfully convicted is horrific to all good people, Justice Scalia excepted.

The good that comes of it is that the mechanisms giving rise to wrongful convictions are put under scrutiny, shown to all the world as junk in either their application or effectiveness.  The bad is that it focuses public concern on the innocent, as if those are the only people entitled to our concern.  The guilty are throwaways.

SHG has a point.  A small one.  Without debating the matter at length, we would agree that to any fair minded person almost no one should be a ‘throwaway’, such that we just, say, sentence them to death and that’s the end of it.  At the same time, “…focusing public concern on the innocent…” does not come at the expense of concern for anyone else, unless the public concern is some sort of zero sum game.   We don’t know why SHG would think that.  We don’t know why anyone would.

We’ll say this, though, for SHG:  he’s consistent on this point, at least in the larger sense, insisting that the CDL perspective is to defend them all, innocent or guilty.  This, too, is not in the least problematic.  Unless it becomes some kind of dogma with far reaching – and completely unnecessary – implications.

For example, does consideration of the government’s offer of leniency in the form of a plea bargain in any way depend upon the actual guilt or innocence of the defendant?

Meanwhile, Gamso writes another compelling piece about a death penalty case in Texas that’s conscience shocking by any sane measure; and yes, it involves a guy who has been in the Texas prisons since 1996 and appears not only to be innocent, but to have been framed by a cop.

That scenario certainly resonates around here.

Ordinarily Gamso agrees with SHG (and for that matter, Justice Scalia) in oft opining that innocence doesn’t matter.  But with Gamso there’s a qualifier:  “…until it does…”, you might say.  For SHG, well, like we said he’s consistent on the point.  It’s a dogma.

Here’s an interesting thing, though:  SHG seems to believe that innocence concerns make his job harder.  We have often said that SHG’s dogma makes every other CDL’s job harder.  And especially ours.

Who’s right?

Update:  Pretty funny how the comments to SHG’s post of today that prompted this post are finishing up at the moment.  Apparently SHG has never heard of the four cardinal virtues.


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6 responses to “Gamso v. Greenfield (Updated)

  1. Of the recent Texas execution of Robert Ladd (and the competing rush to kill the mental ill of Georgia’s ending of Warren Hill) – are repugnant!

    A Judge remarking upon “Mice and Men” and then babbling, banter of this note – to permit executions of those guilty of wrong, is abhorrent. (Same goes for Indonesia’s firing squad {while denying last rights})

    “But does a consensus of Texas citizens agree that all persons who might legitimately qualify for assistance under the social services definition of mental retardation be exempt from an otherwise constitutional penalty?”

    Thank G-d that we are accursed by one lame and then blessed by another deserving fame. His Honor (one of my heroes who had over 40 years of experience as prosecutor, counsel to the Governor entailing 81 applications for commutation of capital sentences, Judge, member of the “National Crime Commission”, witness before the British Royal Commission on Capital Punishment, and member of the American Law Institute and its Advisory Committee on the Model Penal Code. ) Chief Justice Breitel did an unthinkable exception – making his personal comment in People v Davis –

    Speaking for myself alone among the dissenters I find capital punishment repulsive, unproven to be an effective deterrent (of which the James case itself is illustrative), unworthy of a civilized society (except perhaps for deserters in time of war) because of the occasion of mistakes and changes in social values as to what are mitigating circumstances, and the brutalizing of all those who participate directly or indirectly in its infliction.

    There are mice and there are A-Men’s!


  2. Interested Blog Reader

    My my, whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Great synopsis of the blog. I did enjoy the quote about Sharon Keller saying “innocence shouldn’t be an impediment” though. Meanwhile, will Kelly Gissendaner be granted clemancy today? Or will Texas execute its first woman in 70 years tomorrow?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It goes without saying that affairs of state, governments and corporations have no moral compass (arguably, not even legally required to think of such).

    Be that as it IS, Texas, Georgia and Oklahoma seem to actually enjoy the idea of the ultimate conclusion to liberty’s birthing.

    There’s no stopping Texas now and – unless Holder does get his departing wish of federal ubiquity, of the end of capital punishment –

    probably never will stop the apparent thrill, Texas gets out of kill!

    I’m just (sadly) sayin…..


  4. By the way – with me being a “pain in the sass” at THAT realm..

    Sliding scale remarks that Your [my] comment is awaiting moderation.

    Fine…. Here’s your sign (of what)…..

    We’ll shut down the innocent project, around the world and here in the U.S.

    So that you can prove what genius there is in your premise
    (and desire that the innocents get nixed meanwhile – for your comfort).

    May as well stop sending food to the starving in Africa, elsewhere and the homeless too;
    because those dam extra tractor trailers and ships are just soooooo dam annoying!


  5. This is the summa cum laude’s response….

    Don’t be a moron. I didn’t say the Innocent Project is a bad thing, or suggest that it shouldn’t exist. It does great work. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that there can’t be any negative collateral consequences to its work. I realize that many of the ideas here can be way to hard for some people to grasp, but try harder.

    And the party edited out this further note that;

    It’s stupidity like yours that makes me want to require commenters to pass a f——-g IQ test instead of just a simple math problem.

    Where I’ve responded with (and the party has not yet moderated/allowed)

    I’m not the “genius” who proffers a premise and doesn’t consider the “consequence” of that premise.

    Hey, on the bright side of considerations, at least you classified me as a high class mental ill persons.


    I assume, my ability to post there, will be short lived (par for the courses) and that – quite possibly – my first sling of verbal arrow, will be demise!


  6. Hey counselor;

    You could at least link to one that is “totally” committed (able – 🙂 )

    As the Sliding Scale party believes it’s okay to censor all and in part.

    Instability is – as it does – especially censorship of dissent!

    I’m just sayin…….


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