This week, the Marshall Project published an op-ed by Susannah Sheffer entitled "After Executions, Defense Attorneys Have Their Own Grief: a therapist on the emotional price lawyers pay to defend individuals sentenced to death."
As she points out so well, things are different for lawyers like Terry Lenamon who have dedicated their legal careers to defending men and women accused of capital crimes and for whom the prosecutor seeks the death penalty.
There is the emotional toll that must be respected and cannot be underestimated when the death penalty defense attorney and his team does all that they can do, and still their client enters the execution chamber.
From the article:
"Defense attorneys are not at the center of the death penalty story, but the penalty’s impact on these unique stakeholders is significant. It demands that we take seriously the wide-ranging implications of each execution."
Pressures of the Practicalities of the Practice
Another factor that adds more stress to the death penalty defense lawyer’s daily life which is not mentioned in her article is how these lawyers have to be savvy and smart in how they do their job, because they are dealing (for the most part) with indigent clients. There’s not much money in the budget and there’s a life on the line.
Defending against death in any scenario is emotionally harsh, but consider how difficult it is for the cases where you have to monitor how every single dime is spent and still maintain a standard of excellence?
Think about it.
Indigent Defense in Capital Cases: Florida’s JAC
For more on this issue, see "Who is the JAC? What is JAC vs. Lenamon? Should You Care?" and read Terry’s amicus brief in Fletcher v. JAC for additional discussion.