LETTER: Dismay at postcard

Oct. 31, 2013 @ 04:58 AM

To the Editor:

I am writing to express my dismay at a postcard that the Lee County Republican Party recently mailed out. The postcard lambasted attorney and Democratic City Council candidate Chas Post for his profession as a criminal defense attorney. It ended with the sentiment: "Chas Post — great for alleged criminals! Not good for Sanford City Council." Across the bottom in tiny print, it said "Paid for by Lee County Republican Party."

As a newly minted criminal defense attorney myself, I was disappointed and offended by this attempted character assassination by the local Republican Party of those who dedicate their lives and careers to practice in this field. It's not always easy, especially when many in the court of public opinion dispense with the notion of "innocent until proven guilty" and assume all those who face criminal charges are guilty simply because they have been charged.

Republicans are often the first to squawk about Constitutional rights — for example, in the context of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. I have a civics lesson for the local Republican Party — criminal defendants, believe it or not, also have Constitutional rights, not the least of which is the right to counsel in all criminal prosecutions. It says so in the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Defense attorneys are there to ensure that defendants' rights are not violated and that they are not railroaded by the prosecution. I called Mr. Post's opponent, Republican candidate Max Dolan, at his home on Saturday afternoon. To his credit, he was apologetic, said he had nothing to do with the content of the mailing and that he does not share that point of view.

I'd like to see him take it a step further and publicly disclaim any involvement with the dissemination of that postcard.

I've known Chas Post all my life and count him as a colleague in the defense bar and a friend. He is a good person and he cares deeply about the future of Sanford and its citizens. We would be lucky to have him on our city council.

Becky Whitaker

Sanford