Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What Is The Point Of Guaranteeing A Lawyer...

We've been saved the shame of at least one more execution. For now.
What's disturbing about this case can be summed up as follows: the guy had shitty legal representation, at least at his appeal but possibly at his criminal trial as well.
State-provided legal representation, I should add. I'm sure there are safeguards for ensuring that the assignment is basically random (subject to whatever personal conflicts might arise,) so I'm sure that this lawyer was probably not chosen specifically so the DA could bump his conviction and execution rates up.
It's one thing if I go out and hire a bad lawyer. Caveat emptor demands that I check out his or her references, background and record.
It's another thing to have the lawyer forced upon you by the same entity that's trying to kill you.
The evidence presented at trial is insufficient, in my opinion, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Foster was involved in the killing. Largely, it rests on inconsistencies in his story. There is no physical evidence of his involvement beyond "Well, he *had* to have been involved for the crime to have taken place!"
The argument that a 140 lb man couldn't move a 130 lb woman is idiotic at best and morally corrupt at worst. We're talking about an event that involved enormous stress on a system, one that's tailor-made for an adrenaline rush, which throws into question any claim that someone is physically incapable of doing something that someone else is capable of.
People have moved pianos in less stressful situations, is my point. 
Indeed, his "accomplice" admits to having committed the murder alone. His accomplice is dead of natural causes now. One could speculate that he confessed knowing he was dying anyway, but that's inadmissible evidence. 
The last bit of "evidence" to form conviction is that Foster was involved in another murder with this same partner just two months prior. Granted, it's circumstantially relevant to his ability to kill someone but it, either alone or in conjunction with the rest of the evidence at trial, should not be enough to convict for this murder.
Indeed, the evidence as summarized at this trial calls that conviction into question (for example, that was a rape-murder, this by all accounts was consensual sex,) but I think we can all grasp there's a distinct element of "he musta kilt someone" going on here.
 Beyond the evidence, though, it seems that if we want a Constitutional right to an attorney to have any effective meaning, it must mean competent representation, if only to avoid the appearance that the state is a murder mill.
OK, it's Texas, so it's hard to avoid that anyway, but you get my drift. As I noted earlier, by setting the bar on the ground, the state effectively can hire the dregs of the legal community and claim that it is providing what the law requires. This absolutely guarantees the conviction and in many cases the execution of innocent people. People without the means of obtaining competent legal representation themselves.
Think about it: it means that this Constitutional right, unlike nearly any other, relies on the income and wealth of the citizen.
Which is diametrically opposed to the foundation of this nation as one of equality and justice. For that alone, Foster's execution ought to be stayed.
As repulsive a thought as even I find that to be.