I was under the distinct impression that a defense attorney was ethically bound to not take a particular action that was explicitly rejected by the client. What can one make, then, of the revelation that DC sniper John Muhammad has actually written a letter to Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell asking for his assistance in getting his defense team to stop appealing the decisions?
Convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad has written a letter to prosecutors seeking their assistance in putting an end to his legal appeals from death row.
In a letter made public Tuesday, Muhammad tells the Virginia Attorney General’s Office that he is waiving all rights to appeal his 2003 conviction and death sentence for the sniper killings in 2002 that terrorized the D.C. region.
Muhammad says in the letter that he has tried without success to stop efforts by his defense lawyers, and that he is counting on the attorney general to assist him.
I’m more than a little suspicious of the defense team’s motives, here. Considering Muhammad’s reported financial state, I’m guessing that they’re trying to either milk whomever is paying for this or are hoping for some kind of payoff from a book or movie deal.
If the situation weren’t so serious, I’d have to laugh at their sudden contention that their client is brain damaged and cannot make legal decisions on his own behalf. Funny that he’s not competent to say he doesn’t want to continue his appeals but this team was trying to convince us that he was more than OK to be acquitted and released. Attorney General McDonnell should grant Muhammad’s request and get this circus side-show stopped.
Update: Our local Fox station, WTTG Washington, DC, has gotten a copy of the letter and made it available. The earlier story didn’t make something about the letter clear. At the bottom of page 1 Muhammad writes, “So I’ve written to you’ll all because I know you’ll will make sure that this letter will get to the right people – so that you’ll can murder this innovent black man.” (Spelling and diction are his.)
First up, Muhammad’s not an innocent man, period. He was tried by a jury of his peers and the evidence was sufficient to render those 12 people sure he’d done the crimes he was accused of doing. Guilty, not innocent.
Second, his little outburst has rendered his entire letter a moot point. The Attorney General has no ethical recourse but to allow the appeals because Muhammad himself is saying he’s innocent. He’s not, of course. We all know that. But we can’t dismiss his lawyers from the case for the act of appealing the conviction when the defendant claims innocence of the crime.
Nice move, idiot.
However, for me this creates no major issue. He’s guilty, he’s been sentenced. Get on with it.