October 09, 2002
Feds to intervene in Burdine retrial

A federal judge will rule whether or not Calvin Burdine, the Texas death row inmate who was granted a new trial on appeal because his original lawyer slept through much of the case, gets to retain the attorney who won him the new trial.

State judge Joan Huffman has ruled that Burdine, an indigent defendant, is not entitled to the lawyer of his choice. Personally, I can't see what the harm is if the guy's working pro bono, which the lawyer whom Huffman did appoint is doing. Unfortunately, I suspect that the right thing is to throw out the state rule, which the federal judge will be reluctant to do and which will cause a hue and cry among conservatives if he does. I say this is a unique case that touches on a big part of the reason why people are justifiably skeptical about the death penalty and that we really owe it to everyone involved to do it right. If that means trashing a rule that doesn't properly deal with a situation like this, then so be it. Send the Lege a message that they have work to do.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 09, 2002 to Legal matters