Stand Up for Norm Lefstein
I took a little liberty there from the words of “To Kill A Mockingbird,” when one of the black folks in the upstairs courtroom gallery tells Scout to join the others there and stand up as Atticus Finch leaves the courtroom and passes under the gallery.
It is time for all of us to stand up for Norm Lefstein, because a great man is passing.
Norm Lefstein has terminal Stage 4 glioblastoma. His life span is limited. He is at home with his wife Diane and plenty of home health care from the hospital. He is generally pain free. He is usually resting or sleeping peacefully, due to daily radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
When I visited him at his home two Saturdays ago, we talked a lot about his storied career and his stunning last victory — the just recently issued Formal Opinion 486: Obligations of Prosecutors in Negotiating Plea Bargains for Misdemeanor Offenses by the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility.
A week before that, his children had all gathered around him and read him the concluding paragraph of that Opinion and a few brief remarks I had sent them about its significance.
There was not a dry eye in the room.
When I visited Norm a week later, it was clear to me that he realized what he had accomplished in that last great six-year effort.
Those of us who will carry on in this work will be doing so standing on the shoulders of a giant.
Norman Lefstein is the architect of the modern indigent defense reform movement.