Assistance of counsel, twisted

The Madison County Record Jun. 24, 2007, 7:29am

To the editor:

What would happen if nine lawyers were sent out to hang a horse thief?

They would hang the horse. The confusion of the local judiciary compares with the many confused opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court.

During colonial and early statehood days, until subjugated by bar associations, it was a common practice of all courts that litigants or criminals who were inarticulate could designate neighbors who were not lawyers as their "assistance of counsel," to articulate their cases.

Since those early days, by a series of lies, self-serving court rules and judicial rulings, the spirit and intent of the 6th Amendment's phrase "assistance of counsel" has been twisted to disenfranchise non-lawyer assistants of counsel.

Nowhere in the 6th Amendment is there a reference to "paid," lawyer or representation. These words have been manufactured to serve the self interest of courts. The word "counsel" does not specifically mean lawyer.

A year ago, on June 26, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court issued confused opinions in United States v. Gonzalez-Lopez that a criminal defendant was deprived of his choice. Both the majority and minority got it wrong in their affirmation and dissent.

The majority implied many times that counsel means lawyer and made the Freudian slip that the 6th Amendment is a right to a "paid counsel." The dissenters said that courts have the authority to choose quality of counsel over the name of counsel.

One of the many failures of the U.S. Supreme Court is a little known fact that the Court could have had a significant effect in preventing the U.S. Civil War. If the Court had banned all slavery in the Dred Scott case, it may have prevented the Civil War by a judicial order.

The Court shares some of the blame for the slaughter of 600,000 Americans and what followed.

The common man of this nation will never receive fair and impartial justice until an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is rammed down the throats of the judiciary that mandates "assistance of counsel" does not mean assistance of lawyer and any law abiding non-lawyer, mature citizen has equal access to be elected as a state judge or nominated as a federal judge.

The Court, by affirming that defendants have the right to "paid counsel" of their choice, the right to unpaid, non-lawyer "assistance of counsel" is established by the 10th Amendment.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. Being self-evident and by inference this right (unpaid, non-lawyer assistance of counsel) extends to the civil justice systems.

Charles D. Sullivan
Waterloo, Ill.

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