The Constitution was intended to be many things: a guide, a charter, founding principles and at the very least a set of instructions for those that sought to build a just and fair country from the ashes of rebellion.
What it was never intended to be was a blanket, and a wet one at that. Unfortunately, state Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, TN (hey! stop rolling your eyes) didn’t get that particular memo.
So, in his Tennesseean way, he has introduced a bill making it a felony for criminal defense lawyers to make “unproven insinuations” about crime victims during the course of a trial.
Lawmakers said it isn’t fair for attorneys to try to make criminals out of victims during a trial. However, some attorneys believe this notion is unconstitutional.
The discussion for the new law came about after a couple in Knoxville was tortured and killed in 2007. The parents of Channon Christian listened to the graphic details in court last year and said defense attorneys insinuated their daughter used drugs.
“They criminalize the victims. They are in the grave. They have no defense,” said state Sen. Tim Burchett, a Republican from Knoxville.
Police departments cannot be sued unless there was no probable cause for an arrest. The so-called “forensic experts” in child sex cases can coax a victimization out of a rock, yet there are no consequences for them when the “allegation” is later proven to be utterly false.
No, it is everyone’s favorite punching bag and scum of the Earth, the criminal defense lawyer, who must expose himself to criminal liability for doing the very thing that the Constitution mandates: defending the accused.
It’s not like there aren’t avenues for discipline of defense lawyers who engage in offensive behavior: prosecutors and judges are free to file grievances if they think the lawyer has crossed the line: this results in suspensions and disbarments.
But to create a whole new category of criminal offense for merely giving the jury a reason to question the credibility of complainants? Might as well do away with the whole “trial” thing, no?
While lawyers have called this bill unconstitutional, Burchett said it is the right thing to do.
“If I was member of the legal community, I would quit wrapping myself up in the Constitution and start thinking about what’s right,” said Burchett.
I could say many things here, all sarcastic, all witty, all derisive, but I don’t think anything I can come up with can top the sheer stupidity emanating from every pore of that statement, so I shall let it stand on its own.