Lawyer quips to judge: Call me Capt. Justice

AP News
Posted: Nov 01, 2013 4:11 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee defense attorney responded to a prosecutor's request to be referred to as "general" and other titles with a request of his own: Just call me "Captain Justice."

The suggestion came in response to a motion from Assistant District Attorney General Tammy Rettig in which she asked the judge in an aggravated burglary case to order the defense attorney not to refer to her as "the government."

According to the motion, "The State believes that such a reference is used in a derogatory way and is meant to make the State's attorneys seem oppressive and to inflame the jury."

As alternatives, Rettig asked that the judge order she be referred to at trial as "General Rettig, the Assistant District Attorney General, Mrs. Rettig, or simply the State of Tennessee."

"General" is a common title for state prosecutors in Tennessee.

In his response, defense attorney Drew Justice argued the motion should be dismissed.

Williamson County Circuit Court Judge Michael Binkley did dismiss the motion in a hearing last week.

If the judge had decided to grant the prosecutor's request, Justice wrote that he wanted the judge to grant him a military title of his own. He suggested "Captain Justice."

Arguing that "lawyer" and "defense attorney" are prejudicial, he also suggested that he be referred to at trial as "defender of the innocent" or "guardian of the realm."

And Justice argued the word "defendant" should be banned because it unfairly demeans and dehumanizes his client, Donald Powell.

"At trial, Mr. Powell hereby demands be addressed only by his full name, preceded by the title "Mister," Justice wrote. He also suggested the prosecutor could use the alternative title "that innocent man," since Powell is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

And he asked that the defense be referred to as "the resistance," concluding his response with, "WHEREFORE, Captain Justice, Guardian of the Realm and Leader of the Resistance, primarily asks that the Court deny the State's motion, as lacking legal basis."

Justice said of the ruling: "The judge basically said he didn't think the words 'the government' were derogatory."

Rettig did not immediately return a call requesting comment.