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Right to a Defense

May 01, 1988

While no reasonable person would lack sympathy for Tamra Wimler ("Consider the Victims," April 17), who was attacked and victimized, she is misdirected in her attack on the criminal justice system.

Criminals are not released in mass numbers from San Diego jails. Such a belief is fostered by those who have a political ax to grind. Nor are murderers, rapists and thieves released after being arrested for minor offenses without full consideration of their prior criminal record by a judge sitting in review of their bail. Of course, a judge cannot set bail because someone "might" reoffend.

Criminal defense attorneys do not encourage the commission of crime. They do not select their clients nor do they try to deceive the public out of fear that someone will do "what is necessary to reduce crime permanently." Criminal defense attorneys and their families are not immune from being victims of crimes nor do they lack for sympathy and understanding for the suffering that others have endured at the hands of their clients.

Without the vigorous and competent defense of those accused of crime, the system simply would not work. That is a fact of life in these United States. It is our Constitution that supplies the right of protection to all of us.

No one is above exacting and definitive application of due process. I, for one, would have it no other way.

EDWARD J. PECKHAM

San Diego

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