I’ve often found myself advising clients to settle a suit that they ought to win, but that they nevertheless might not win. A $10,000 payout is worth the risk of an adverse civil verdict amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. Most clients settle because, after all, it’s only money.
But what if it’s not only money? What if a guilty verdict means imprisonment and a filthy record, while an innocent verdict means that, after seven long years, you can finally walk away with your honor intact? And what if the settlement offer is that you’ll be spared the risk of prison, but that your record will be permanently sullied?
Yesterday, Frank Wuterich, the last of the Haditha defendants, faced precisely those choices. He chose honor. Given the way in which the cases against the other Haditha defendants collapsed completely, I’m quite convinced of Wuterich’s innocence. I hope the court martial comes to the same conclusion.