Lawyers have long carried the brunt of criticism as a profession that is often perceived as being snaky, dishonest, and money-motivated. Dishonesty and greed are words that one often reads when someone is attacking the profession. Certainly, while lawyers are not a paradigm for honesty, and such criticisms may well be an aphorism, not all lawyers are that way. But even if such remarks are occasionally deserved, the real danger with lawyers rests, not with the garden-variety type, but rather with the pernicious, and often recondite mind-sets of powerful prosecutors who are bent on executing people at all costs; these folks are simply flat out evil. Never mind the disparities that exist between the ages, races, geography and mental status of the condemned, these lawyers have only killing on their minds- and they need to do so often. If their acts were not, unfortunately, legal (so far), psychologists would have no problem naming them as sadistic serial killers. One such person that comes to mind is Dale Cox (67), the acting DA in Caddo Parish, Louisiana. The New York Times carried an article on Cox, noting that even though death penalty cases were on the downswing in most parts of the country, some areas were greatly meting out the ultimate sentence in disproportionate numbers. The Times reported:
[Caddo Parish, here in the northwestern corner of the state, is one of these counties. Within Louisiana, where capital punishment has declined steeply, Caddo has become an outlier, accounting for less than 5 percent of the state’s death sentences in the early 1980s but nearly half over the past five years. Even on a national level Caddo stands apart. From 2010 to 2014, more people were sentenced to death per capita here than in any other county in the United States, among counties with four or more death sentences in that time period.
Mr. Cox, 67, who is the acting district attorney and who secured more than a third of Louisiana’s death sentences over the last five years, has lately become one of the country’s bluntest spokesmen for the death penalty. He has readily accepted invitations from reporters to explain whether he really meant what he said to The Shreveport Times in March: that capital punishment is primarily and rightly about revenge and that the state needs to “kill more people.” Yes, he really meant it.]
THE PROSECUTOR SHOULD RETIRE
Cox has some obvious problems, but the remainder of the state may oblivious to them because he continues on without much notice, perhaps, until now. According to the Times piece, he has threatened lawyers with criminal contempt if they protest too much through their discovery requests; if this is true, his actions need to be brought before the state’s highest court through the appropriate disciplinary process, and if necessary, these issues need to be raised in the federal arena. Cox has conceded that he takes pills for depression owing to the macabre nature of the crimes he is prosecuting, and while understandable, this fact coupled with his comments that the state “needs to kill more people” would seem to indicate that he is not fit for this job. He reminds me of Marlon Brando’s role in “Apocalypse Now”, where he portrayed a rogue Colonel who was similarly bent on killing people in a remote area of Vietnam. It is time for Cox to do some other type of work or retire.