Defense Lawyer Quits After Four Decades And No Innocent Verdicts Representing Those Facing Capital Punishment

Jerry Guerinot is walking away from his legal profession as the defense lawyer representing nearly 3 dozen individuals facing capital punishment and receiving guilty verdicts on every single one.

Opponents of Guerinot in the field of capital punishment have labelled him the worst lawyer in the United States, but the defense attorney shrugs off the critics’ words reminding that anyone would criticize someone who represents accused criminals in such notorious cases.

The Associated Press shared the words of 71-year-old Guerinot.

“My theory is if they are the sorriest of the worst or the very worst, I got ’em. Somebody’s got to defend — ‘defend’ is the wrong word — represent these people.”

Jerry Guerinot has represented all varieties of violent criminals including gang members, serial killers and sociopaths that have been accused of heinous crimes. The aging attorney practiced in Houston within Harris County which has been responsible for sending more accused and convicted to death row than any other U.S. county since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. This means, although little to virtually no success in the cases, Jerry still got quite a lot of business and as has been noted, too much business to properly represent the accused.

This view comes from Jim Marcus, co-director of the Capital Punishment Clinic at the University of Texas. One example of the business that Guerinot was receiving includes a period in 1996 when jurors convicted four people in Guerinot cases over a 7-month period. One individual, Anthony Medina, Marcus claims received virtually no defense from Guerinot, with little trial preparation and unprepared questioning of witnesses.

“It is unthinkable that a defense attorney would try four separate death penalty cases to verdict in the space of seven months.”

Guerinot says that he was not the lead on a number of these high profile cases also claiming that there was extensive preparation done early on in at least two of the four cases and that he spent a good deal of time on Medina’s case prior to trial. Jerry Guerinot admits that he understands why colleagues may have the perception that he was trying to rush cases to receive payment, but insists “that’s not what happened.”

The Associated Press noted the results in regard to the 21 capital punishment cases Guerinot took on.

“Over his career, court records show 21 Guerinot clients received the death penalty. Ten have been executed. Two had their sentences commuted to life when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that those under 18 at the time of the crime could not be executed. One case is awaiting retrial on the punishment. Prosecutors dropped the charges in another case.”

The publication shares that 13 other clients of the attorney are serving life sentences following Guerinot having reached a plea agreement or negotiating a lesser charge. In some cases the jurors could not agree unanimously on the death penalty or it wasn’t sought by prosecution.

“You never hear about the ones we pleaded down to murder or aggravated robbery or when the jury came back (with a life sentence).”

There are two cases that are being reviewed currently which Guerinot was the attorney on. The attorney’s performance is not the prime focus of the review, yet questions have been raised as to whether his clients received fair trials.One such case involves the only British woman to sit on death row in the United States, Linda Carty. Carty insists that if she had better counsel, she wouldn’t be in the position she is today.

“I hate to say that man’s name. I wouldn’t be here if I had better counsel.”

Carty was convicted in a case that involved her allegedly orchestrating the death of her 20-year-old neighbor and then abducting the woman’s infant. Carty denied any involvement. Three men were convicted as accomplices and were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, and yet Carty got the death penalty.

[Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images]