OPINION

Dickson: How do you defend Chad Daybell?

Apr 11, 2024, 9:00 AM | Updated: Apr 15, 2024, 2:00 pm

chad daybell and lawyer...

Chad Daybell and his attorney, John Prior, appear in a hearing on Oct. 29, 2020. (KSL TV)

(KSL TV)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom. 

BOISE — At 8:45 Wednesday morning, KSL NewsRadio‘s legal analyst Greg Skordas was in the courtroom for the first day of the murder trial, State of Idaho v. Chad Daybell. Greg emailed us from the courtroom about how Chad Daybell was being defended in his murder trial. His first email read:

“The attorneys and judge are not yet in the courtroom but for some reason, they brought Chad in. He’s sitting alone, stoic as a statue, looking straight ahead. He’s wearing a shirt and tie. His hair is really short — like a military cut. He hasn’t moved an inch in 15 minutes.”

  

“Not a good look”

A few minutes later, I got another email from Greg. It set the scene for us so well. It read, in part”

“Lawyers finally come in at 8:55. Chad’s lawyer whispers something to Chad and Chad nods. Then his lawyer takes a seat at the counsel table about as far from his client as possible — not a good visual. Chad and his lawyers sit alone at the defense table. No co-counsel, no paralegal, no investigators — another bad optic in my opinion. No lawyer in America should attempt a capital jury trial alone.”

Later in the email, Greg added, “The judge introduces the four lawyers plus the case agent sitting at the prosecution table, and the single lawyer sitting at the defense table, who has drifted a few inches closer to his client.”

How can you defend Chad Daybell?

Some of you may know that I was a lawyer in an earlier life. I clerked at the public defender’s office in my second year of law school and worked as a defense attorney for a private firm after I graduated. I remember during that time, and sometimes even today, being asked, “How can you defend those people?” The unsaid part of that question is, “How do you defend someone who is guilty?”

My response usually sounded something like this. Imagine your brother has been charged with a crime. He may be guilty, or perhaps he is guilty of something, but not everything they’ve charged him with. Wouldn’t you want him to have the best defense possible?

And when you think about the power of government, its resources, and its ability to take away not only liberty but in the case of Chad Daybell, life — don’t you want to make sure someone puts them through their paces? You don’t want that to be something we as a nation do easily, do you?

Sometimes that answer satisfied them. More often I got a harrumph and that was the end of the conversation.

Stay tuned for more trial coverage

I so appreciate Greg Skordas’ expertise. Greg has been both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. He understands the law so well. You can hear him on the air with us regularly on KSL NewsRadio. He will join us every time there is a new development in the Daybell trial. We know the horror of the crimes in the Daybell case has captivated many people here in Utah.

Please feel free to reach out to me on social media if you would like questions asked of Greg or our reporters on the scene.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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Dickson: How do you defend Chad Daybell?