Monday, October 25, 2010

Tully Raps Massa For Negative Attack On Curry

Republican Marion Co. Prosecutor candidate Mark Massa has started running a negative ad against his Democratic opponent Terry Curry that has angered criminal defense attorneys and others in the legal profession who frankly think the ad is unprofessional. The ad focuses on Curry's defense of one child molester during his legal career that has also included the prosecution of a number of child molesters. Star politicall columnist Matt Tully takes issue with the ad and questions whether it isn't a sign of desperation on Massa's part:

. . . The 30-second ad features gloomy music and a sober-sounding narrator telling the story of Curry's handling of an appeal for a convicted child molester in 2001.

"We're left with one question," the narrator says at the end of the commercial. "Can he really get tough with child predators when he has no problem defending one?"

For cinematic effect, the ad is full of darkness and shadows and features a dozen or so young children staring sadly into the camera.

The ad came out of nowhere, a sharp attack at the tail end of a policy-driven campaign. In debates, the two candidates have been respectful. In the interviews I've had with them, both seemed to agree that the other was a quality candidate.

"I was exceedingly disappointed that Mark would run that ad," Curry said. "I think it's beneath him, and I think it came out of their campaign because they know they are behind."

That seems to be the general consensus. As one of Massa's fellow Republicans told me last week, this isn't the type of ad you run when you're leading in an election. Both campaigns have claimed polling shows them with modest leads. But so far, only one has taken the scorched-earth strategy.

Massa's campaign manager, Kyle Walker, defended the ad, which he acknowledged has generated grief from local lawyers.

"It's highlighting the fact that the guy who gave a child predator a vigorous defense now wants to be your prosecutor," Walker said.

Like many negative ads, this one might be effective. On the list of despicable human beings, few rate lower than child molesters. And tying a prosecutor candidate to a lowlife he once defended is a reliable and time-tested tactic. Tying one to a child molester might be political gold.

Still, is it dirty?

After all, we have a criminal justice system that relies on the ability of all defendants to receive a fair trial and competent defense. For the system to work, we need lawyers who are willing to represent people whose actions might leave them nauseous. Massa's ad seems to exploit that system for quick political gain.

Curry noted that the system relies on a government facing the burden of proof and the accused receiving a vigorous defense.

"The intent of that adversarial relationship is that the truth will emerge, and we will only convict people who are guilty," he said.

He also pointed to the many criminal cases, including those against child molesters, that he led while in the prosecutor's office. He called the idea that he would be soft on any crime ridiculous. And then he said he would respond to Massa's ad with one of his own.

That's understandable, and fair. But this isn't the way many people expected this campaign to end.


Anonymous said...

That says something worse about Massa than about Curry.

Vox Populi said...

Wow. You definitely don't run an ad like that when you're running ahead. Looks like Carl Brizzi Jr. is running scared.

I didn't plan on voting next week, but Curry might need me too.


I guess Massa doesn't believe everyone is innocent until proven guilty? Does he have a problem with everyone accused of a crime having access to an attorney?

Maybe Massa would prefer that in Marion County we just bring back Inquisition tribunals without the accused having a semblance of a meaningful defense.

Cato said...

Will Massa actually use that as an opening in a criminal case?

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you see two people seated at that far table, a wicked man accused of this vicious crime and his lawyer, so equally depraved that he has the low morals to appear before this court in a shocking defense of this loathsome man and he further dares to ask you, honest fellow citizens, to use this sacred courtroom and our time-honored legal system to excuse this reprehensible act.

I call on you, decent citizens of this upstanding community, to give neither the criminal at that table nor his craven lawyer the audience otherwise due members of proper society. I ask you to be deaf to their devlish deceptions and to return the verdict demanded by God, that which is Right and the standards of our fair community.

Massa's a running mistrial.


Nice one, Cato!

Ryan said...

Get real people. This ad is fair game. I looked up the citation from the ad, and it's disgusting. Read for yourself:
I've never heard anything from Curry, or anyone else for that matter, that says this ad is inaccurate. Instead, Curry and his supporters hide behind the statement that everyone deserves a defense. There is nothing in this ad that suggests Massa believes anything to the contrary. The question isn't whether or not criminals deserve a defense, it's whether or not you want your prosecutor to be someone who chose to appeal a convicted child molesters case. Obviously Curry didn't want to lose, so he must have wanted this sex predator to run free.

Independent 1 said...

It seems to me that what is happening in the U S Senate race is analogous. While lobbying may be unpopular, it is neither illegal, nor unethical, nor immoral to serve as a lobbyist.