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CliveSSmith2147 karma

I have often represented people who are guilty. I much prefer it. I don’t really like defending innocent people. To me, the essence of the human condition is that we are all better than the worst 15 minutes of our lives, and the most important questions are to understand why bad things happen, and then try to deal with them in a compassionate way.

CliveSSmith1818 karma

That is a good question. In theory, I have been involved in about 400 cases now, and have lost 6 of my own clients. But others have died when I have been helping on the case too, so that would take it up to maybe 12. That might still sound like a good success rate (388 out of 400), but that is misleading. I used in the past to agree to sentences that were horribly long for people in order to avoid the death sentence, and I now view that as a death sentence carried out in a slower way. And one person I represented at trial was innocent yet he got convicted even if he got life rather than death (thankfully he is out now). Then there are people like Kris who I got off death row, but he is clearly innocent, so that is a dreadful loss. And so forth.

CliveSSmith787 karma

Yes, I have naturally heard of poor Joe Arridy, who was a mentally disabled 23 year old with an IQ allegedly 46. With most of the tests we used to use in the US, you get 45 for taking the test, so that is really only one point above the table on which you are working. Such instances are terribly sad. I had a series of seriously mentally disabled people facing execution and in more than one case the guy was IQ 49. Getting across what kind of limitation that was was hard. The judge said 49 is half 100 so he is half as intelligent as an average person. In the end, I had to get him to confess to assassinating (a word he did not understand) Presidents Lincoln, Kennedy and Reagan to show how limited he was. And the one thing he did understand was that people were laughing at him, which was dreadfully sad. The legal system is not a good way to deal with disabled people or, indeed, all kinds of unique individuals.

CliveSSmith780 karma

I am not sure I have ever had an intimidating prisoner, but I have had one occasion when I have been attacked in the visitors room. That was by a very mentally ill person, and it was very sad as it gave the rather nasty warden of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center the excuse to kick me out of the prison.

CliveSSmith692 karma

Hey, you may think that is unimpressive, but it is actually very kind. Sometimes people say the darndest, nasty things. I don’t really care if that is what they want to do – they should have free speech, even if it is nasty speech - but it is not nice. So when someone says something pleasant, it is always heartwarming. Though I should say that what I do gets acknowledged plenty. There are a lot of unsung heroes out there who get far less kudos than I do, including 36 other people in the London office of Reprieve.