Friday, May 11, 2012

Walking the walk

So what do you do if you're a repressive authoritarian regime and there's one of those pesky lawyers who just insists on defending accused murders, regime critics and infidels? Well, you certainly can't let that sorry so-and-so get in the way of dispensing your brand of justice, can you?

The next thing you know he'll be convincing folks they have rights of some sort and that sometimes when you've got nothing to lose you might just have a chance of winning.

If you're the Iranian government and the lawyer in question is Mohammad Ali Dadkhah you toss him in jail for nine years and ban him from practicing law for another ten years to shut him the hell up. One of Mr. Dadkhah's most recent clients was a Christian pastor on death row for apostasy.

The regime has accused Mr. Dadkhah of acting against the nation's security, spreading anti-regime propaganda and keeping banned books in his house. His real "crime," however, was fighting for human rights. He is the fifth member of Iran's Defenders of Human Rights Center to find himself on the wrong side of the bars.

Yes, we complain because judges won't listen to our arguments. We get upset because the prosecutors wearing the black dresses do everything they can to undermine our cases. We get mad because the courts treat our clients like their guilty unless we can prove otherwise.

But at least we don't have to worry about being tossed in the can because we're willing to stand next to the most unsympathetic person in the courtroom. As bad as things are here at least we get to go home when it's all over.

As the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers reminds us, criminal defense attorneys are liberty's last defender. We are the voice for the people society has forgotten. Sometimes we are the only people willing to stand in the face of the power of the state - much like that young man who stood in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square.

Mr. Dadkhah was willing to do just that. And now he's paying the price.

See also:

"First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," Gamso for the Defense (May 10, 2012)

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