Lincoln Fulfilled His Duty as a Lawyer

Regarding the article ``Lincoln's Legal Papers Are a Case in Shrewdness,'' March 22:

The author demonstrates a shallow understanding of the responsibilities of a lawyer in the defense of an accused when he writes: ``The slick feints by the lawyer are the sort of technical maneuvers that sully the popular image of the legal profession today.''

I have no knowledge of the case beyond that gained from the article, but it appears that Abraham Lincoln sought a change of venue and convinced a judge that the change would increase the likelihood of a fair trial. A ``callow'' prosecutor then neglected to bring the matter to trial in a timely manner and Mr. Lincoln got a dismissal.

The author seems to imply that constitutional protections need not extend to those accused persons who are clearly guilty, the victim in this case having been shot ``in front of several witnesses.'' But the Constitution does not make that distinction and affords its protections to all those accused of a crime, who, not incidentally, are presumed innocent at that stage of the proceedings.

Lincoln had a duty to his client and to the court to force the prosecutor to do his job. If that involved ``technical maneuvers'' then he had no ethical choice but to perform those maneuvers.

``Technical maneuvers'' are not always clearly definable. To the accused, they mean a method of ensuring that rights are not infringed upon. To someone with only indirect interest in the litigation, the result of such maneuvers might seem inappropriate. The author's choice of words ``[sullies] the popular image of the legal profession today'' by misleading readers toward a judgment not supported by the facts he relates.

Nonetheless, the article was interesting and worthwhile in adding to our acquaintance with Lincoln. Wayne R. Douce, Omaha, Neb. Attorney at Law

Educated TV news consumers

The cover story ``News Wars,'' Feb. 14, was helpful and informative. The author managed to give television viewers an intelligent grasp of the situation faced by news producers. This enables us to be more active participants in shaping the character of news we receive in our homes. We must let newscasters know what is of interest to us. Today we have a large choice of news sources, and will select those compatible with our tastes.

Please keep up the inside reports on television. Television has become such an influential factor in modern society. Nancy Dyson Shipp, Cambridge, Mass.

Aid, don't blockade, Sudan

Having spent time working in a United Nations refugee camp in Sudan during the Ethiopian famine of 1985, I read the opinion-page article ``What the US Can Do in Sudan,'' March 14, with interest.

Before contemplating an American solution based on blockades and embargoes, attention should be paid to regional history. Have we forgotten that East-West superpower politics were more important when the CIA and our government overtly and covertly supported the Ethiopian rebels and the Sudanese government in 1985? ``We'' were then more concerned about Marxism than famine and turned a blind eye to some of the ongoing atrocities suffered by the Southern Sudanese at the hands of the ruling North. Now the great Soviet threat has been replaced regionally by Iran and Libya. A concerted effort should be aimed at dialogue instead of escalation via blockades and threats.

I agree that the region needs a dramatic shift of focus. The so-called Islamic regime in Sudan is acting in an immoral manner that should be condemned by Muslims and Christians alike. I would suggest that foreign funds be spent on food and education, not on bombs and ideological power plays. Patrick Farrell, Huntington Beach, Calif.

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