I’ll defend anyone.
I believe that no matter who you are or what you’ve allegedly done, you deserve an effective defense. I believe in rights. I believe in due process. My job is spelled out plainly in the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
I have defended police. I have defended lawyers and corporate executives. I have defended those accused of war crimes and those accused of furthering the efforts of notorious, violent cartels. And I defended all of them proudly, aggressively, and to the best of my ability.
But in my almost ten years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer, most of which was earned as a public defender on the state and federal level, the vast majority of those I have defended have been black men.
Thousands of them were caught up in the system due to discriminatory police practices, unfair prosecutions, limited community resources, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Rather than a presumption of innocence, they had a presumption of guilt. Poverty, not a conviction, kept them in jail.
This is how our criminal legal system functions. And it functions exactly as designed. It’s only broken if you think it’s about creating a society of equality and justice and liberty and public safety. But if you actually think its purpose is controlling certain populations, oppressing certain people, conserving the hierarchies of wealth and power, then it’s functioning quite well.
And maybe after decades of mass incarceration, the militarization of police, discriminatory prosecutions, and disproportionate sentences, it’s time to change that. Maybe we want our response to crime to be more effective and humane. Maybe we want a system rooted in pragmatic solutions and positive values. Maybe we want justice, in the truest, most pure sense of the word. And, you know, maybe that’s not so much to ask.
Molly Hiland Parmer