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The 50-Lawyer Poll


So we asked 50 defense attorneys who’ve worked on federal terrorism cases since 9/11 their opinions of the legal war on terror. (We also asked 50 prosecutors, but U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Dean Boyd told assistant U.S. attorneys across the country not to participate. He declined to tell us his reason.)

After you’ve seen how the defense lawyers answered, you can answer the questions yourself in our interactive poll.

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Results from our interactive poll:

1. Prosecutors - If you were a criminal defense lawyer, would you be willing to represent Osama bin Laden in federal court?

Yes - 39 votes (33.62 percent) No - 56 votes (48.28 percent) I don’t know - 21 votes (18.1 percent)

2. What grade would you give the entire US justice system – including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches – in the legal war on terror?

A - 8 votes (6.96 percent) B - 25 votes (21.74 percent) C - 21 votes (18.26 percent) D - 30 votes (26.09 percent) F - 31 votes (26.96 percent)

3. US Supreme Court decisions on terrorism issues have:

Unduly favored defendants - 34 votes (29.57 percent) Unduly favored the government - 39 votes (33.91 percent) Struck the right balance - 29 votes (25.22 percent) I have no opinion - 13 votes (11.3 percent)

4. Which branch of government has acquitted itself worst on terrorism legal issues?

Executive - 58 votes (49.15 percent) Legislative - 4 votes (3.39 percent) Judiciary - 32 votes (27.12 percent) All have aquitted themselves equally poorly - 11 votes (9.32 percent) I have no opinion - 13 votes (11.02 percent)

5. Which branch of government has acquitted itself best on terrorism legal issues?

Executive - 20 votes (16.95 percent) Legislative - 22 votes (18.64 percent) Judiciary - 46 votes (38.98 percent) All have aquitted themselves equally well - 6 votes (5.08 percent) I have no opinion - 24 votes (20.34 percent)

6. Which forum should handle the prosecution of enemy combatants captured overseas?

Federal courts - 45 votes (37.5 percent) Military tribunals - 62 votes (51.67 percent) Does not matter - 2 votes (1.67 percent) I have no opinion - 11 votes (9.17 percent)

7. The terrorism laws passed by Congress have made the US safer.

Strongly agree - 31 votes (25.2 percent) Somewhat agree - 21 votes (17.07 percent) Somewhat disagree - 11 votes (8.94 percent) Strongly disagree - 58 votes (47.15 percent) I have no opinion - 2 votes (1.63 percent)

8. Privacy rights have been unduly compromised as a result of anti-terror efforts.

Strongly agree - 70 votes (57.38 percent) Somewhat agree - 4 votes (3.28 percent) Somewhat disagree - 6 votes (4.92 percent) Strongly disagree - 40 votes (32.79 percent) I have no opinion - 2 votes (1.64 percent)

9. The terrorism cases brought in federal court have made the US safer

Strongly agree - 54 votes (12.8 percent) Somewhat agree - 91 votes (21.56 percent) Somewhat disagree - 69 votes (16.35 percent) Strongly disagree - 184 votes (43.6 percent) I have no opinion - 24 votes (5.69 percent)

10. Defense lawyers - Would you be willing to represent Osama bin Laden in federal court?

Yes - 31 votes (28.97 percent) No - 52 votes (48.6 percent) I do not know - 24 votes (22.43 percent)

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But Is It War?


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