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By Robert J. McWhirter 

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Robert J. McWhirter

Robert J. McWhirter is a nationally and internationally known speaker and author on trial advocacy, immigration law, and the history of the bill of rights.

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Much of the modern argument on the scope of the First Amendment and freedom both of and from religions has to do about getting God power.

Getting God-Power for the army is still in play. Geoffrey R. Stone, The World of the Framers: A Christian Nation? 56 UCLA L. Rev. 1, 2–3 (2008), begins his article with but one example from the religious “culture wars.” An Air Force Academy graduate objected to the color guard at the Naval Academy lowering the flag to the cross at a ceremony because the oath he took was “to protect and defend the Constitution, not the New Testament.”

As for the irony of asking God for the power to kill God’s other creations, no one summed it up with bitter irony better than Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address:

Both [sides] read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.

Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address (March 4, 1865)

All this begs the question: How much is God really behind human attempts to claim "God Power"?

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Rather, the political street gang called the “Sons of Liberty” was protesting tax unfairness. The modern Tea Party has it wrong.

The issue was that the British East India Company had a monopoly allowing them to import tea into the colonies without paying taxes. This really pissed off colonial importers like John Hancock who had to pay the taxes. So, they organized their gang to raid the British East India ships in Boston Harbor, Dartmouth, Eleanor, and Beaver, with cargos of tea and hard cider worth about $4,444,617.60 in 2004 dollars. Thus, the Boston Tea Party was not about being “taxed enough already” but not being taxed enough!

What they did not tell you in grade school was that only the tea ended up in Boston Harbor. The Sons of Liberty rolled the barrels of hard cider to whatever Sons of Liberty bar was near to dispose of it in a befitting way.  

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Who Killed Perry Mason?


The United States Supreme Court keeps pronouncing we have the right to an effective criminal defense lawyer. It just handed down Hinton v. Alababma, No. 13–6440 (February 24, 2014) holding that your criminal lawyer must be effective when selecting a defense expert. This followed Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473, 1483 (2010) that an effective criminal lawyer must advise you of the collateral consequences of pleading guilty and Lafler v. Cooper, 132 S. Ct. 1376 (2012) that you have the right to an effective lawyer at a change of plea hearing.


But what good is a criminal defense lawyer if no one believes in the presumption of innocence?


Every week for decades Perry Mason defended innocent clients. In Judd, for the Defense (ABC 1967-1969) Clinton Judd defend innocent people and confronted the social issues of the day. In the 1970´s, Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law (ABC 1971-1974) defended the innocent along with his assistant Lee Majors who became TV´s The Six Million Dollar Man. The Bold Ones: The Lawyers (NBC 1968-1972) featured Burl Ives as respected attorney Walter Nichols who hired two young brothers (Joseph Campanella and James Farentino) to defend the innocent. In Petrocelli (NBC 1974-1976), the client was certain to be convicted until Petrocelli would get evidence suggesting, but not necessarily proving, an alternative possibility, which the jury would accept as a reasonable doubt under the presumption of innocence.



But these shows are decades old. The last of them, Matlock – Perry Mason with a folksy twist – last aired in 1995, nearly 20 years ago. Today, the few TV shows about criminal defense attorneys are edgy, such as The Practice (20 Century Fox TV 1997-2004), with usually guilty clients providing the drama.


Prosecutors now rule TV. Law and Order and its numerous spin-offs present the prosecutor putting away the guilty against the odds. There are no innocents in the Law and Order world and acquittals are miscarriages of justice. The Law and Order franchise, as well as semi news shows like Nancy Grace (HLN February 21, 2005 (2005-02-21) – present), represent an entire industry based on the presumption of guilt. Although not about lawyers, the reality show COPS (Fox 1989-present) follows police officers as they arrest suspects red handed. Each episode starts with "COPS is filmed on location as it happens. All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law." The message: all defends are guilty and the presumption of innocence just gets in the way.


Perry Mason is dead.

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Criminal Lawyers Guide to Immigation Law

Criminal Lawyers Guide to Immigration Law

By Robert J. McWhirter

The Citizenship Flowchart

The Citizenship Flowchart

By Robert J. McWhirter

At Risk Youth

At Risk Youth

By Robert J. McWhirter w/ J. Jeffries McWhirter, Benedict T. McWhirter, Ellen Hawley McWhirter

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