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Criminal Defence vs. The Conscience? - Page 5

post #61 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by in stitches View Post
as far as the attorney is concerned, it doesnt make a flying rats ass of a difference what he thinks, what he knows or what he thinks he knows. he has no need to believe his client isnt guilty. his only job is to defend him to the absolute best of his capabilities, within the guidelines of the law and with all the tools at his disposal. if he cant do that becuse of what he thinks of his client he is in the wrong profession.
Sure, but don't you think it's a lot easier to convince a judge, a jury, or a prosecutor that your client is innocent if you actually believe that it's true? I've always found honesty much more persuasive than the alternative.
post #62 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grenadier View Post
Sure, but don't you think it's a lot easier to convince a judge, a jury, or a prosecutor that your client is innocent if you actually believe that it's true? I've always found honesty much more persuasive than the alternative.

who said lawyers always have the luxury of the easy way out?
post #63 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grenadier View Post
Sure, but don't you think it's a lot easier to convince a judge, a jury, or a prosecutor that your client is innocent if you actually believe that it's true? I've always found honesty much more persuasive than the alternative.
Sometimes your client can be innocent, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that makes him look guilty and the case is difficult to defend. This is especially true in cases where the defense is based on what your client's mental state was when he committed the act. Say, for example, that your client is charged with receiving stolen property because he bought a television off of a friend for a very cheap price. The mental requirement is "knowing that it was stolen" or "believing that it was probably stolen." This case can be difficult to defend even if your client is completely innocent. On the other hand, you can have a case where your client committed the criminal act with the requisite state of mind, but there is very little evidence supporting the allegation (but enough for probable cause). For example, say your client sexually assaulted a young child, but the young child did not tell about it until after a long time had passed, after the child told about it the details were extracted using somewhat suggestive questioning, the child constantly changed his story, and there was no corroborating physical evidence. That could be a difficult case for the State to prove even though the person may have actually done it.
post #64 of 99
@ odoreater i feel like every time i respond to something here you come along with some kind of of legal case in point that i am unable to bring to the table. thanks counsellor.
post #65 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by odoreater View Post
Sometimes your client can be innocent, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that makes him look guilty and the case is difficult to defend. This is especially true in cases where the defense is based on what your client's mental state was when he committed the act. Say, for example, that your client is charged with receiving stolen property because he bought a television off of a friend for a very cheap price. The mental requirement is "knowing that it was stolen" or "believing that it was probably stolen." This case can be difficult to defend even if your client is completely innocent.

On the other hand, you can have a case where your client committed the criminal act with the requisite state of mind, but there is very little evidence supporting the allegation (but enough for probable cause). For example, say your client sexually assaulted a young child, but the young child did not tell about it until after a long time had passed, after the child told about it the details were extracted using somewhat suggestive questioning, the child constantly changed his story, and there was no corroborating physical evidence. That could be a difficult case for the State to prove even though the person may have actually done it.

Granted. Facts are facts and some situations will be logically easier to explain than other situations. But I still think that a lawyer is much more persuasive if he believes what he's saying. It just takes on a different character.
post #66 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sherman90 View Post
Petty crimes and over-zealous prosecutors aside, I can't imagine deriving any real pleasure from raising constitutional challenges and poking holes into the prosecutions' case in respect of a paying dirtbag. It's dishonest work, and no amount of "adversarial system"'ing and "State vs. individual"'ing can get me over this hurdle.

Long boring story follows -

This actually made me think of a case I had several years ago. It was an underage drinking charge for a kid at the local college. He was 20 and a half years old, went to a fraternity party, had two beers and then the place was raided. The police officers gave everybody a PBT (Portable Breath Test) as they walked out the door and charged everybody underage who came up positive.

In PA, underage drinking isn't such a big deal, it's usually just a fine and maybe some community service. But there's also a driver license suspension penalty, regardless of whether the person was driving at the time (which my client was not). My client was prepared to plead guilty and take any punishment except a license suspension because he had to commute to college and to work in order to pay his tuition.

At the time of the scheduled hearing, they bring in all the kids from the raid at the same time and take them one at a time. As I'm private counsel I get to go first, so I go in to talk ahead of time with the police officer. I'm practically begging the guy to let my client plead to some other offense. Disorderly conduct, anything that carries just a fine and no license suspension. NO DEALS. Please, Mr. Officer, he'll do extra community service, he'll pay a double fine, just have pity on this working class kid trying to get his way through college? NO. C'mon, anything? NO WAY IN HELL, THESE PUNK KIDS NEED TO LEARN A LESSON.

I had no choice but to go through with the hearing, even though I knew my client had committed the offense. Well, the police officer did a fine job testifying as to his case but when it came time to testifying about the PBT device used to test my client's blood alcohol level he didn't cite to the Pennsylvania Bulletin which provides that the particular model used was an approved testing device. Ergo, the PBT evidence isn't admissible. Without evidence that my client had alcohol in his system there was no evidence he had consumed alcohol. Not guilty.

As I left the courtroom my client immediately told his dozen frat friends about my success. They, in turn, immediately hired me on the spot (at $600 a pop) and each and every one of them after a hearing was declared not guilty. All because some obnoxious cop wanted to teach them a lesson.

Did they all commit the criminal act? Yes. But I had no bad feelings about getting them off on a technicality because some pig cop wanted these punks to respect his authority. Still one of the most satisfying defense wins of my career.

Quote:
Originally Posted by odoreater View Post
On the other hand, you can have a case where your client committed the criminal act with the requisite state of mind, but there is very little evidence supporting the allegation (but enough for probable cause). For example, say your client sexually assaulted a young child, but the young child did not tell about it until after a long time had passed, after the child told about it the details were extracted using somewhat suggestive questioning, the child constantly changed his story, and there was no corroborating physical evidence. That could be a difficult case for the State to prove even though the person may have actually done it.

I lost this exact case about a year and a half ago.
post #67 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by harvey_birdman View Post
Long boring story follows...

Did they all commit the criminal act? Yes. But I had no bad feelings about getting them off on a technicality because some pig cop wanted these punks to respect his authority. Still one of the most satisfying defense wins of my career.


case in point. thanks harvel.
post #68 of 99
It's not like the cop had personally decided what the penalty for underage drinking should be. Sounds like you're just pissed the cop wouldn't negotiate with you.
post #69 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ataturk View Post
It's not like the cop had personally decided what the penalty for underage drinking should be. Sounds like you're just pissed the cop wouldn't negotiate with you.

Yes, that's exactly what I was pissed about. Rule #1 - Don't piss off Harvey. He sure learned that lesson that day.
post #70 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ataturk View Post
It's not like the cop had personally decided what the penalty for underage drinking should be. Sounds like you're just pissed the cop wouldn't negotiate with you.
I'm not an attorney but few things piss me off more than someone who won't negotiate from a reasonable position. I usually withdraw then go for the kill under those circumstances
post #71 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by CouttsClient View Post
I'm not an attorney but few things piss me off more than someone who won't negotiate from a reasonable position. I usually withdraw then go for the kill under those circumstances

Believing that the defendant should suffer the consequences of his actions upon pleading guilty isn't really unreasonable.
post #72 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwilkinson View Post
Believing that the defendant should suffer the consequences of his actions upon pleading guilty isn't really unreasonable.
I understand that but he didn't plead guilty to that charge and his attorney thought it reasonable to charge him with a lesser offense. I agree...not that it matters though
post #73 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by harvey_birdman View Post
I lost this exact case about a year and a half ago.

I've tried some of these with mixed results, but they are definitely the most difficult type of criminal case to handle.
post #74 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by harvey_birdman View Post
Long boring story follows -
***
Did they all commit the criminal act? Yes. But I had no bad feelings about getting them off on a technicality because some pig cop wanted these punks to respect his authority. Still one of the most satisfying defense wins of my career.
This is an awesome story. It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. I would get into my feelings and experience further, but I know that many people in my area already know my identity, so I'd rather not divulge anything more than I already have re: my feelings with respect to the laws and those who enforce them - at least not in a forum devoted to men's style.
post #75 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdbb View Post
Don't take sexual assault cases with young victims. Problem solved. If you find yourself forced to take cases you find repugnant, you need to spend less time hand wringing about moral issues and more time figuring out why your practice management is so poor that you can't afford to turn down clients.
This is really the answer. It's completely possible to practice criminal law and not take sexual assault cases with young children. Most judges who handle appointed lists are cognizant of that issue and won't assign you to those cases if you find them morally repugnant.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sherman90 View Post
Interesting. I think I fall into this camp, as well. The line is drawn by the moral worth of the client, not whether or not he or she is strictly "guilty". I think we can all agree that the black letter of the law is an empty shell anyway.
I can tell by your posts that you're very concerned about 'morality,' 'dishonesty,' and the fact that 'the law is an empty shell.' I don't know about you, but I went to law school and became a lawyer. I didn't go to philosophy school or become a preacher. My job is to advocate, not decide guilt; that's reserved for judges and religious deities. I deal in the law and temporal punishment. I let the grace of almighty God deal in morals and perpetual absolute punishment.
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Styleforum › Forums › Culture › Business, Careers & Education › Criminal Defence vs. The Conscience?