“Let's drink to the hard working people Let's drink to the lowly of birth Raise your glass to the good and the evil Let's drink to the salt of the earth.” -Jagger/Richards
So the verdict is guilty and the sentence is death. Thus marks a brilliant victory for the prosecution in People v. David Westerfield. But, as San Diego and the rest of the country collectively toast the mastery of Jeff Dusek and Paul Pfingst of the San Diego District Attorney's Office, I'd like to tip a glass to a relatively unsung hero of the trial: Defense attorney Mr. Steven Feldman.
Tonight I heard Fox News analyst Bill O'Reilly announce his plans to file an ethics complaint against Feldman to the State Bar of California. O'Reilly claims that a defense attorney has a moral and legal obligation to not defend a client if the crime is heinous enough and guilt is certain. Translation: “David Westerfield is a monster-and the monster must be destroyed!”
God, that is so '80s.
Last night, one of my bar customers said, “Steven Feldman is a snake.”
Hey buddy, care to step outside? That's the Man of the People you're badmouthing there. I ask you, sir, “Who will you call when an enraged, terrified, torch-bearing lynch mob marches up the hill to your castle and drags you kicking and screaming toward the bonfire? Steven Fucking Feldman-that's who.” Show some stinking respect, and buy that man a drink.
In the gym I heard someone say Feldman is a lowlife and Dusek is a hero.
Wrong. Heroism is not defined simply by doing a good deed. Heroism is a doing a good deed-at some risk or cost to the hero. You know, like a fireman or a whistle-blower. There was no risk for the prosecution in this situation. All they had to do was prove something most people already wanted to believe, then kill a person most people wanted so very goddamn dead dead dead dead dead.
Steven Feldman, however, is like the cloaked Samaritan at the entrance of the castle, holding back the mob at great peril, futilely shouting, “Whoa people, slow down! Are you sure you have the right monster? Are you certain he deserves to burn? Even if you answer yes to both questions, aren't you still glad the questions had been asked?”
Keep 'em coming, bartender. This is Steven F. Feldman: Man of the People. Salt of the Earth.
Even Bob Doyle, President of the San Diego chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), criticized Feldman-also a member of NORML-because he attacked the Van Dams' drug and sex lifestyle during the trial.
“It is an outrageous conflict...,” said Doyle, “that on one hand [Feldman] advocates the legalization of marijuana, and on the other hand he implies some sort of criminal negligence associated with the casual smoking of marijuana among friends.”
Look, Bob, there is no conflict here. The reason Feldman introduced drug and swinger lifestyle evidence was for the slight possibility that the Van Dams' somewhat marginal behavior might have attracted somewhat marginal characters. This is not a stretch. As a frequent drug abuser, I can certainly vouch for that obvious truth-we can be one helluvan unstable bunch. It is entirely reasonable to recognize this fact, yet still support the legalization of marijuana as Feldman does.
Secondly, the fact that Mr. Feldman targeted the Van Dams' use of marijuana in court, proves surer still that he is a man of honor. He could have chosen to ignore the marijuana evidence to avoid casting his NORML agenda in a bad light. But he didn't. Because he took an oath to defend all his clients with the voracity of a rabid, junkyard dog hooked on rock. He made no such oath to NORML that I know of.
Thirdly, Bob Doyle knows full well what Steven Feldman has contributed to the NORML cause. He pays membership dues. He volunteers his time and expertise as a legal consultant and trial lawyer. He's the goddam Man of the People, Bob.
What monumental nuts you must have to turn your back on him. What you should do is pinch off something stinky from the NORML stash and offer it to Feldman in a 12-foot golden bong and beg forgiveness on bended knee.
Christ, people, you're acting as though the government never abuses authority and innocent men never get the gas.
So while the city sends it message of gratitude and respect to the prosecutors, I have another message: “Hey Steve-o, if you're out there reading this-I want to party with you, dude. Let's smoke a fatty, find a dive bar, go blind on the Rumplemintz and start legal arguments with the largest, stupidest, ugliest drunks in the bar. Then we'll fight side by side-just like they do in the buddy movies. Come on, pal, whaddya say? I'm buying.