lawyer and founder of Reprieve in defending clients in death row, why the entire justice system is imperfect - and his fear of appearing prudishWilf
Clive Stafford Smith, the son of three, but had to form a very low opinion of the police and because, when he learned that a friend's father was an officer, his mother had to explain there are good cops. This revelation clearly made a great impression on the young child. He immediately sent his parents in prison.
"He comes in the room the next day," laughs his father, "and said," Dad, in the kitchen, "and closed the door behind me So I say: '. Wilf, we a little further, here, now let's talk about the presumption of innocence, the need for testing. I mean, I'm not even supposed to have done? "No" for the first time in life Stafford Smith, his appeal due process fell into deaf ears. director of the daycare for your child, took him aside after this week and said: "You know, this morning, Wilf sent to the entire class in prison! " Stafford Smith laughter. "So it will be a hedge fund or an attorney."
Stafford Smith has always been one of my heroes, but I was always a little worried about finding a lawyer. And he turned out to be very serious - a kind of feeling on death row Peter Tatchell humor? To implement the right term "benefactor" as an insult, his CV reads like your worst nightmare head boy at a public school Oxfordshire, rejected a position at Cambridge to study journalism in the United States, with a wave but sincere will "terminate the designation of the United States with the death penalty." Stay law school, returning on holiday to work for the company of his cousin mixture is ready, because "I wanted to be reminded that if these men brought their lunch boxes to work every morning winter for less than £ 1 hour, then I should accept the same pay for doing the job that I loved. "
This is the kind of feeling that daily Telegraph readers reaching for SICKBAG, but that is precisely what happened to to work for a pittance to save the wretched of the running for 20 years before returning home in 2004 to run the charity Reprieve, is sentenced to death in the world. Personally, I would give anything for a resume like his, but I do not see opportunities prudishness tedious.
But Stafford Smith proves to be positive humor inflatable stupid joke and an eye for the absurd - so much so, in fact, only 53 years, maintains a quality almost adolescent. In public debates someone always asks if anyone would not, to which he replies: "Well, I'm sorry, I could not be a Tory." The only time I regretted was when "I forgot - oh shit, my mother is in the room. - And she has voted Conservative since 1642" It can not cope with mass murderers - " It's just people who vote conservative series all the time, I find it very difficult to understand "- and he and his wife, a colleague Emily married in prison for one of its customers after completing his sentence death commuted to life imprisonment. "He was so sweet, she was very beautiful. Beloved, I am very proud of him." The murderer is allowed to officiate? "No, he is not permitted, but who cares?"
new book Stafford Smith, injustice: life and death in the U.S. courts, not exactly a barrel of laughs. But it reads like a thriller, exciting and terrifying turn, following the case of a client convicted of a double murder and sentenced to death in 1986. Itself is an extraordinary story, which exposes the incompetence and corruption, bad brass and Colombian drug cartels, and remains to this day the protagonist behind bars - which is why Stafford Smith wrote the book. "I feel very guilty for not having it, and I thought I should bring the matter before the court of public opinion." But in doing so, tells a story more disturbing Kafkaesque madness of a justice system that seems to have been designed to offer nothing but the justice.
"You start thinking, how could I have failed Kris [Maharaj, his client] so palpable, so long? I started to think about things, and I'm an idiot but I never. stopped thinking about how the system is structured in a way that is so bad that puts you at every step I have often said, in a sort of eloquent ". representative hate innocent people. "But I never stopped to think how it is possible that an innocent person is so sure they are not, they can not understand that 12 people could be convicted."
Maharaj was a successful businessman when he was accused of murdering two colleagues. Do not think for a moment that could be found guilty, he hired a lawyer spectacularly useless, largely because it offered its services at an affordable rate fixed. Why Maharaj motivated to spend a fortune when it is clear that I am innocent? But a lawyer at a fixed rate is a deterrent financial spend more than the minimum amount of time on a case. Once convicted, the accused may hire a new lawyer to represent their best calls - but due to a strange law known as "procedural hurdle" that the new lawyer can not introduce new evidence that the trash was raised for the first time the defense case is deemed to have "waived his right" failing to mention the first time around.
Opposing him are the police and prosecutors whose career - and Stafford Smith would say, moral health - based on a relentless conviction that no defendant may be innocent. There is a widespread view that the judicial system is biased in favor of the accused, but nothing, he said, could not be farther from the truth.
"What made me think it was a conversation with two officers, who were very nice, and had 54 years of service between them and I was curious so I asked:" . How many times in 54 years do you think that maybe, maybe, they arrested the wrong person? And they said, 'Oh, no. "
None of the judges of the U.S. Supreme Court has worked as a defense attorney and district attorneys are elected - they have a vested interest to appear draconian. Stafford Smith cites a study that found that more than half of U.S. prosecutors do not believe in the presumption of innocence at all. ? "Fascinating, is not it, but you have to wonder at the human level, you, as a person, go to work every day saying," I wonder if I'll put an innocent man in prison TODAY ' today or not? You can not do as human beings. So, naturally, people who do this work believe that everyone is guilty. And this is something that the system does not take into account. But it is obvious, is not it? "Accordingly, the legislative scheme for negligence, if not outright corruption, police and prosecutors believe they do what is necessary to do justice.
Even the notion of "reasonable doubt" is not a guarantee against miscarriage, Stafford Smith said, because nobody knows what that means. As a lawyer who is not even ask what it means jurors, or discuss the issue in court - so that the judicial process is based on a concept of mystery. "You can not proclaim loud and clear that the burden of proof is essential for the system," he writes, "but then say that we can not begin to define it."
What do you mean? "I think you mean, can you imagine what it could have happened any
so that the prosecution has said?" But if the prosecutor tells the jury that there is a chance at a million dollars that the explanation offered by the defense could be true, jurors assume the defense must be lying. "For if the probability of an event occurring is one in a million, you think," Well, it will never happen to me., But the probability of this happening to you in Britain, for example, where 60 million people live, is that of course, will happen. A one in a million chance can come all the time. But the fact is that nobody believes it. "Adoption British American style declarations victim impact has worsened the situation, he says. "The families of the victims reported that their punishment will catharsis. And just cruel, because it is not. They are simply exploited. I think this is probably the area where we were very cruel to the victims. "