Stew Lilker’s

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The United State’s Supremes: Practicing Criminal Defense An Asset for Supreme Court Nominee

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson: following in the footsteps of John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Thrugood Marshall

Photo: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson with caption: "Judge Jackson's wide-ranging legal experience makes her even more qualified to sit on the Supreme Court." by Jude Faccidomo, president Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Photo: Sceen Shot NYT | Columbia County Observer graphic

Confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court began yesterday. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals judge and former United States District Court trial judge is an eminently qualified jurist who will be an excellent addition to the Court.

Unfortunately, some senators question Judge Jackson‘s capability to serve as a justice because she once was a criminal defense attorney and represented individuals accused of serious violent crimes.

The thought that a criminal defense attorney should not be seated on the Supreme Court is obstructionist and offensive. No lawyer should ever be criticized for their ethical and professional representation of any client. Criminal defense lawyers do not condone a client's behavior but protect constitutional rights and ensure the government proves its charges beyond a reasonable doubt – with lawfully obtained evidence.

Senators should review the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Senators should recall that great Americans such as John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall served as criminal defense lawyers.

Let’s not forget John Adams’ successful defense of the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre or Abraham Lincoln’s successful defense of an accused murderer named Duff Armstrong – the infamous case where Lincoln relied on the almanac to impeach a witness who testified he could see by the bright moonlight on the night in question.

Thurgood Marshall devoted his life to representing poor Blacks in the South charged with all manner of crimes, most famously the so-called Groveland Four.

Judge Jackson’s wide-ranging legal experience makes her even more qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.

To question Ketanji Brown-Jackson’s qualifications because she was at one time a criminal defense lawyer shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the constitution. The right to counsel and the presumption of innocence are the bedrocks of our justice system. To impugn an attorney who at one time nobly took on those challenges, especially for indigent defendants who are the most vulnerable, is simply despicable.

The Committee should ignore the claims of her detractors and move forward with haste to send her nomination to the full senate.

Jude Faccidomo is the president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  is a founding partner and managing partner at Ratzan & Faccidomo, a Miami law firm specializing in criminal defense.

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