The Mike Wallace Interview: Edward Bennett Williams

An interview by Mike Wallace of legendary criminal defense attorney, Edward Bennett Williams, in which he emphasizes the importance of defending our civil liberties. Check it out here: http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/multimedia/video/2008/wallace/williams_edward.html. The transcript can be found here: http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/multimedia/video/2008/wallace/williams_edward_t.html.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the interview:

“No matter how socially or politically obnoxious the ideas of an individual may be, no matter how unorthodox his conduct or his thinking may be, no matter how unpopular he may be, he has the right to the assistance of counsel.”

“Everyone is entitled to be tried in court. Our philosophy of criminal jurisprudence is that the government of the state must prove the guilt or the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. If they fail to do this, then we leave the defendant to the majestic vengeance of God if he be guilty because of the basis philosophy of our criminal jurisprudence is that it’s far far better than ten guilty men go free that that one innocent man go to the penitentiary convicted of a crime of which he’s not guilty.”

“Whenever a blow is struck for an important constitutional principle that it far exceeds the significance of the individual result with respect to the individual defendant.”

“I hope we never see the day when any of our freedoms are out of date or passé because – when that day comes it – it won’t be worthwhile to course all our energies and all our talents into the Cold War against international communism. Because if our freedoms become out of date we’ll – we’ll have yielded ideologically to the philosophy of communism. I think our freedoms as expressed in the Bill of Rights are just as fresh as tomorrow morning. I don’t think they’re passé, I don’t think they ever will be.”

“It’s a great paradox, Mike to say that we should give up the freedoms that we’ve cherished for 166 years – in the name of the fight against communism, because then we shall have done to ourselves what we fear so much from the Soviet Union.”