Here's commenter tressa with an interesting point on Willingham's laughable defense attorney, David Martin. I'm not a lawyer. I'd be very interested in how many lawyers agree with this perspective, especially after watching the interview:
When defense attorneys fail to do anything other than zealously advocate for their clients, the integrity of our judicial system breaks down and due process is severely jeopardized. Although many people would have defense attorneys do little other than sit in the courtroom and make sure that something *really* unfair doesn't happen(because God forbid anyone get off on a "technicality"), this viewpoint runs deeply contrary to the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments, and threatens some of our most deeply held notions of justice. Unfortunately, many defense attorneys themselves hold these notions (Mr. Martin being Exhibit A).
Everyone always wants to hold up the easy cases as evidence of the strength of our judicial system -- the defendant that gets off when the DNA test comes back negative, the wife beater that's convicted after a series of witnesses talk about the bruises on his wife -- but it's the tough cases that count. Do we release the defendant that's been subject to abusive law enforcement practices that violated his Fifth Amendment rights, or do we keep him in jail because letting him go would be letting him off on a "technicality"? Do we offer the accused child molester a competent and zealous defense attorney, or do we cry foul as soon as counsel puts up a tough fight against the prosecution? Do we practice what we preach? Do we take constitutional protections seriously when the rubber meets the road? Or, do we defer, as other commenters noted, to white populism and what we personally think about the defendant? In Texas, it seems like the latter and it seems like all of the relevant legal players are quite happy with it being that way.
Some good points in tressa's follow-up, also.