Timothy O'Toole Quoted in Vox Regarding Lack of Career Diversity Among Supreme Court Bench

"There hasn't been a criminal defense lawyer on the Supreme Court in 25 years. That's a problem."
Vox
03.28.16

Timothy O'Toole was quoted extensively in Vox regarding the lack of diversity in background careers of the U.S. Supreme Court bench. O'Toole said the Court has veterans of both sides of civil cases (defendants' and plaintiffs' lawyers) and one side of criminal cases (prosecutors). "But the one group that seems kind of outside that box, particularly on the Supreme Court, are defense lawyers. And that's a shame," he said.

Defense lawyers and prosecutors see the law in very different ways. "When you see former defense lawyers write on or rule on those issues from the trial bench, it's not an imagination game; it's an experience game. You've got somebody who's formulated dozens of defenses from information just like that," O'Toole said, adding that if you haven't "looked into the juror's eyes when they see what a client has been through," you can't understand just how important those hearings are to protecting the client's rights against cruel and unusual punishment.

"President Obama has actually done a very good job of my view of trying to diversify the federal courts" with defenders "in a way that hasn't really happened in my memory. There are a lot more public defenders on the federal bench now than 10 to 15 years ago," O'Toole said. There is skepticism of appointing justices who are controversial. "John Adams defended the British troops who had fired in the Boston Massacre. But apparently that wasn't as big a political liability then," he said.

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