Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Process v. Outcome: Which is More Important?

Sullivan & Cromwell is a law firm with glittering offices in a dozen cities around the world, and some of its partners charge more than $1,000 an hour. The firm’s paying clients, at least, demand impeccable work.

Cory R. Maples, a death row inmate in Alabama, must have been grateful when lawyers from the firm agreed to represent him without charge. But the assistance he got may turn out to be lethal.


The annals of capital punishment are replete with examples where the process upsets the outcome. Clearly most rational people would assume that giving someone every opportunity to make the case to spare their life is far more important than adhering to deadlines. The recent case of Judge Keller and Texas, who closed the office after being notified that the defendants attorneys would be late submitting a brief, is an example of the process upsetting the outcome.

Do the courts really care about justice?

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