Yarelyn Mena, a 29-year-old graduate of CUNY and Fordham University, served as a lawyer for Johnny Depp in the Depp–Heard trial. A high profile case like this represented a big opportunity for a fairly recent graduate, and she apparently did a very good job in her cross-examination of Heard. Jonathan Turley says of her cross-examination: “It was considered the turning point of one of the most famous trials in modern history. It is something that should be a matter of great pride for the CUNY community and, not surprisingly, the website did an article on their graduate…It is an extraordinary story for a woman who came with her family from the Dominican Republic. She proceeded to graduate from CUNY and then received her law degree from Fordham University. That is a quintessential American story of achievement that any institution should relish and highlight. She noted in the interview that “(Law) was the first career that I knew of before I even really understood what it was.””
But many students were outraged, and the article was removed from the website with an apology:
We understand the strong negative emotions this article elicited and apologize for publishing the item. We have removed it from our CUNYverse blog. The article was not meant to convey support for Mr. Depp, implicitly or otherwise, or to call into question any allegations that were made by Amber Heard. Domestic violence is a serious issue in our society and we regret any pain this article may have caused.
“The “pain” caused by the article was an account of a graduate doing her job as an advocate. We have gotten to the point that people are incapable of recognizing that everyone is entitled to a rigorous legal defense and that the lawyers are fulfilling essential roles in protecting the rule of law. The only thing that matters is that the lawyer represented someone accused of abuse (even though the jury clearly found that Heard lied with malice in the trial). Even lawyers defending a client must now be cancelled to protect others from the pain of dealing with a trial on spousal abuse.”
The reaction of the angry students represents a rejection of the whole concept of adversary proceedings in the legal process. Apparently, a sufficiently-unpopular plaintiff or defendant must not have representation because we know they’re in the wrong…no need to hear evidence, no need to see what the statute books and the precedents actually say.
The class of people displaying this attitude is by no means restricted just to college students and to cowardly administrators. Two lawyers at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, who won a major gun-rights case before the Supreme Court, were told that they had to abandon such clients. According to one of these lawyers:
We were given a stark choice: either withdraw from ongoing representations or withdraw from the firm,” Clement said in a statement. “Anyone who knows us and our views regarding professional responsibility and client loyalty knows there was only one course open to us: We could not abandon ongoing representations just because a client’s position is unpopular in some circles.
Again, one would think that a law firm would be proud to have two of its lawyers win a major Supreme Court case…evidently not.
The attitude that there can only be one view expressed is not limited to law. The Cancellation of speakers, the suppression of unapproved views by social media…these are all aspects of same basic phenomenon. It is somewhat similar to the old traditionalist Catholic position that Error has no rights…the number of people claiming that they have the authority to decide what is an “error”, and what is not, is now much larger.
Your thoughts as to causes, and remedies..if any?