Lay people often imagine that there are different standards of justice for the rich and the poor. I think this is true, but not in the sense people usually think. Often, the rich are singled out for especially harsh treatment, usually due to overly aggressive prosecutors who are trying to make a name for themselves.
The Michael Skakel case is an example. The judge's 136-page opinion documents in great detail how Skakel's representation was totally inadequate. For example, five eyewitnesses placed the defendant 11 miles away at the time of the murder, but his lawyer called none of them. Many other examples abound showing the inadequate representation by celebrity lawyer Mickey Sherman. The fact Sherman was even involved shows how people tend to hire high-profile attorneys instead of competent ones. In Wichita I talked to many people who had hired lawyers who advertise extensively, and they would then come to me with their tales of woe at the lack of adequate representation these phonies provided.
The news media buys into this rich/poor delusion. They repeatedly refer to Skakel as a "Kennedy cousin", even though this is blatantly false. He is not a Kennedy cousin, he is a cousin of Ethel Kennedy's family.
Now that Skakel has adequate representation, it remains to be seen whether the authorities will bother to try him again, or decide to let the witch hunt cease.
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