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Tuesday Letters: Cheating lawyers need punishment, not retraining

Gloria Pinex holds a photo of her son, Darius Pinex, at her home in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

When he ordered a new trial for the family of Darius Pinex, a man shot and killed by Chicago police, U.S. Judge Edmond Chang recognized that ending police abuse demands accounting by everybody who has anything to do with it. Judge Chang started at the top, publicly sanctioning and fining the City of Chicago and its lawyer for hiding evidence crucial to the case and damning to the police. As a consequence, the City Law Department will have an outside review and training in how not to ignore all of its professional and ethical obligations.

Every lawyer owes the client a vigorous defense, but there’s no room for cheating in a courthouse. Unfortunately, some lawyers get away with it. During Police Commander Jon Burge’s years with the Chicago police, at least a few lawyers in the Cook County States Attorney’s office knew that he and his officers regularly tortured suspects and witnesses. Lawyers looked the other way or used perjured testimony or illegal evidence when they went to court and won their convictions, or successfully defended bad cops. Few if any Burge-era prosecutors were charged or even sanctioned by their state bar association. Their misdeeds are part of the reason Chicago has spent over a half billion dollars on police abuse cases in the past decade. I like to believe most lawyers are straight-up. But those who aren’t should be blamed and suffer penalties for the damage they caused. These lawyers don’t need retraining; they need punishment.

Lorraine Schmall, emeritus professor of law, Chicago

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Whoop it up for good kids

In a tongue-in-cheek column on Sunday — “Why I whoop when there is a good reason to” — John Fountain showed that, while he may have lacked decorum by wildly cheering at his sixth-grade son’s honors assembly, he is every bit “the Man.”

He is “the Man” because he clearly recognizes the importance of a father demonstrating pride in the accomplishments of his child, which is too often lacking in some communities where the very presence of a father in a child’s life may not be all that common.

If more fathers showed the love and support Fountain exhibited, their sons might develop the self-confidence, respect for others and sense of responsibility that would keep them from ever wanting to join a gang and harm others to gain “respect” from their peers.

Jeffrey L. Stern, Highland Park

El Chapo arrest won’t end drug scourge

Maybe this time recaptured drug kingpin “El Chapo” Guzman won’t break out of jail, and shall end up being tried here. If so, assuredly he’ll spend decades behind bars.

Then what? The profitability and the U.S. demand for habit forming drugs guarantees the flow shall continue. Already his henchmen are busy perpetuating his Sinaloa operation.

President Richard Nixon began our “War On Drugs” in 1971. Yet today any high school kid can score a drug buy in 30 minutes. It is an unwinnable war as long as illegality assures obscene profits. Didn’t Prohibition teach us that?

The only way to end drug trafficking, which supports urban gang warfare, is to decriminalize recreational drugs with a government-controlled program combining rehabilitation and at minimal cost providing maintenance-level drugs to proven addicts until they can be weaned off them. In principle, the nation is already halfway there at the state level, rescuing people addicted to heroin from taking prescription pain medications containing it.

Overnight, street drugs and gang warfare would vanish. America could save billions yearly on interdiction, prosecution and prisons. Peace could return to our streets.

Already several states have decriminalized marijuana. It’s all a matter of degree and of political will. Or, we can keep up our charade, and start the manhunts for “El Chapo’s” replacements, kidding ourselves for another 45 years and beyond, while the illicit drug trade continues to thrive.

Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park

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