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Walther knows his law


Date published: 10/14/2012

Walther knows his law

I am a law professor and frequently invite Paul Walther, who's running for re-election as commonwealth's attorney in Culpeper County, to speak to my criminal law classes. He has come to speak to my classes in Pennsylvania and when I was visiting at Harvard Law School.

Obviously, there are a lot of people I could ask to speak about issues of prosecutorial discretion. I invite Paul every year because more so than any prosecutor I encountered in my career as a defense lawyer--or as an academic--he understands that his first duty is to be reasonable. Most prosecutors simply do not get this--they see their jobs as maximizing sentences.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't weigh in on a county prosecutor's race, but these are unique circumstances. The most ethical, judicious prosecutor I've known is being attacked for lack of concern about a wrongful conviction. As someone deeply committed to the work of the Innocence Project--and deeply concerned about abuses of prosecutorial power--I could not be more supportive of Paul Walther.

Wesley M. Oliver

Pittsburgh, Pa.

Wesley M. Oliver is associate professor of law and director of the Criminal Justice Program at Duquesne University.