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Justice Free-for-all

Fickman also wanted to know how, until a jury reached a verdict, one could determine who the victim was in a particular case.

"Those questions were never answered," says Fickman. "But if they're going to stick her in front of me, I'm going to ask her those questions."

As for the idea of putting victims at the prosecutor's table, Fickman opines that it might backfire on the law-and-order crowd. "A lot of the so-called victims are not such charming individuals, and to have the D.A. have to sit next to that person for the whole trial might serve 'em right."

Weighing in on the victims' rights debate.
Joe Forkan
Weighing in on the victims' rights debate.

Clements laughs when asked about the incident. She claims not to have heard any boos or hisses, only "a general 'oh no! What?' " at the idea of putting the victim front and center during trial. She also denies breaking any promise to Easterling, saying she had assured him only that she would not attack defense attorneys or admonish them for their chosen profession. Clements recalls that when the attorney initially called her, he warned her that radicals and rowdies in the HCCLA were threatening to walk out during her speech.

The activist says she expected a tough audience and was not upset by the response. "These are the guys who represent the guys who do these bad things," says Clements. "But these are also the guys who also go home at five and have families and wives, sisters and brothers. They are people more often than they are defense attorneys."

Attorney Huff says Clements was clearly spoiling for a confrontation.

"She was up there waving a red flag, spitting in their faces. She went over the line in bragging how they had obtained rights for victims."

At the same time, attorney Huff believes her colleagues should have been taking notes on why Justice for All is so successful, rather than shouting down its representative.

"I just really think the defense bar should have behaved like adults, and treated a guest with a little more respect," says Huff. "They needed to learn the face of the enemy. You need to see what it is that is working against you, and if they have any sense, the lesson they would have learned is that those people march hand in hand. Those people work together."

According to Huff, "If the defense bar expects to have any influence, they need to march hand in hand and work together." She then pauses to consider the notion that defense lawyers, a notoriously individualistic bunch, could ever muster that kind of discipline.

"Ain't never gonna happen," chuckles the lawyer. "Not in your lifetime or mine."

Whether they absorb Huff's "don't get mad, get even" lecture, defense attorneys likely will be a captive audience for Justice for All in the future. Judge Stricklin says the group should have a continuing involvement in the recertification program -- and the judge decides who is on the program. Clements is more than willing to invade the defense den again.

"Absolutely," says the activist. "I think it's important for people who are in that profession to understand a victim's perspective."

In that case, the defense bar might consider forming its own lobbying group: Victims of Justice for All.

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