Lawyer James Fagan, on the floor of the Massachusetts House of Representatives:
I'm gonna rip them apart, … I'm going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined, that when they’re 8 years old, they throw up; when they’re 12 years old, they won’t sleep; when they’re 19 years old, they’ll have nightmares and they’ll never have a relationship with anybody.
Mr. Fagan, a member of that august body, was speaking of children who accuse adults of sex crimes. He was arguing against a bill to impose harsher sentences against adults convicted of raping children.
I fully appreciate the criminal defense attorney's duty to the client. That duty does in fact often require humiliating, embarrassing, and destroying the credibility of alleged victims of crimes (who may indeed be false accusers, or more often I think in the case of children, misled by overzealous parents, social workers, and psychologists). This is not entirely regrettable, as false accusers (at least the adults among them) deserve to be humiliated, embarrassed, and to have their credibility destroyed.
But it's a pretty damned lousy argument to make on the floor of a legislature that is considering whether to impose a ten year minimum sentence for child molestation, a crime as vile as murder in my opinion, though I agree with my friend Ezra that it shouldn't warrant the death penalty, which I oppose even for murder because I worry too much about erroneous convictions, and an execution can't be taken back.
But a ten year sentence is, frankly speaking, nothing in comparison to this particular vile and despicable crime. And any ethical defense attorney will use the tools at his disposal whether it's five years, ten, twenty, or death.
Fagan's argument boils down to: give me what I want or the kid gets it. But the kid is going to get it anyway, and if the defendant is actually guilty, he deserves worse than ten years. He deserves death.
Thanks for reminding the public what assholes we are, Jim.