Veterans Day

 

I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

Just in time for Veterans Day, the Death Penalty Information Center released a new report concerning our men and women, and often boys and girls, who wear the uniform of the United States military.

There are three hundred veterans on death row in our country. Many more are already graduates of that institution.

At their capital trials, their service to our nation — which politicians, news reporters, and likeminded ass-kissers rotefully thank them for — and illnesses related to their service ofttimes “were barely touched on as their lives were being weighed by judges and juries,” the report says.

Judges and prosecutors don’t think what veterans left behind in Vietnam, in the Gulf, in Afghanistan is relevant to the case at hand. Eight hundred thousand Vietnam vets with PTSD isn’t relevant. One hundred seventy-five thousand Operation Desert Storm vets with Gulf War illness isn’t relevant. Irrelevant that three hundred thousand vets came home from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD, when one commits a hometown murder. Watch that last stat: that one’s going up every day.

The report says defense attorneys fail to investigate military and medical histories; and when they did that prosecutors “dismissed, or even belittled, their claims of mental trauma from the war.” On appeal, judges discount military service information, “and governors passed on their opportunity to bestow the country’s mercy.” And why not take a pass? Most dead G.I.s don’t vote.

The first person executed this year was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam; he was on one hundred percent mental disability after coming home with PTSD. The State of Georgia refused to find it peculiar that someone might shoot to death a police officer over a traffic stop.

Prosecutors often say, in my own practice, we’re grateful for their service, but to be fair we have to treat them like the rest of us.

But hey, guess what? They’re not like the rest of us. The rest of us have never held a buddy’s guts in our hands.

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