The City Paper
today here at Pith. This AM the soon-to-be-former daily print product had a story
about how a former legal adversary has endorsed controversial Bush nominee Gus Puryear in his bid to be a federal judge in Tennessee's Middle District. In the piece, attorney David Randolph Smith offered his support to Puryear, the corporate counsel for CCA, even though the two opposed each other in court. Randolph helped represent the estate of Estelle Richardson, the late CCA inmate who was found with a broken skull and four cracked ribs in a solitary cell on July 2004. Randolph even wrote a letter supporting Puryear to the members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, who were not exactly wowed by an unprepared Puryear when he came before them in February.
In the letter, Smith says that Puryear would make an “excellent judge.” Interestingly, Smith says that he wrote the letter to the judiciary committee after yours truly interviewed him and “gave me all of this criticism [of Puryear].” And, in turn, I never quoted Smith when he dutifully offered up praise about the Bush appointee. Well, that's all true. I repeated the criticism of Puryear coming from local attorneys in my interview with Smith, and he ably defended the judicial nominee. But I didn't quote him because I already had a number of people in my story singling out Puryear for his intelligence and good character. I simply didn't have room for Smith, much like I didn't take the space to quote the head of the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Justice, whose officials told me that Puryear is not fit to be a judge. In journalism, you typically don't quote everyone you interview. To its credit, The City Paper
had me saying as much in its story.
Anyhow, as you might have expected, Alex Friedmann, the diligent activist who has helped rally nationwide opposition to Puryear's nomination, has an explanation for why Smith is supporting the CCA heavy, and it has nothing to do with the nominee's alleged competency. "He told me, twice, that he didn't want a 'right-wing religious nutjob' nominated for the position, and Puryear was the least objectionable,” Friedmann says.
David Randolph Smith responds, "I said 'I'm glad the Republicans didn't put up a right-wing religious nut job and that part of the reason why I want to support him is that he is definitely in the more moderate sphere. I did say that he was preferable to a right-wing nut job, but that's not why I'm supporting him. I like Gus. I think he's smart and honest."
Check out another take
on our coverage of Puryear from a rather eloquent blogger. (And let's hope my wonderful parents don't Google search me anytime soon.)
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