Criminal Defence vs. The Conscience?

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Sherman90, May 1, 2011.

  1. Sherman90

    Sherman90 Senior member

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    This all sounds very nice, and it's what we tell people as criminal defense attorneys all the time to make them feel nice and tingly inside, but it's not quite true. If I read a file, and conduct an investigation, and determine that my client's constitutional rights and due process rights were not violated, and he's guilty of the crime that was charged, I will still try to exploit any weakness I see in the State's case to get the best possible result for my client, including an acquittal or dismissal if that's possible. I would never lie for a client, but I will put the State to its proofs, regardless of whether my client is guilty or not or whether his rights were violated or not. The way I see it, the other side has all of the power of the State and the government behind it, including all of the resources that go along with that. All my client has is me. If all of that power on the other side is not enough to secure them a conviction, well, that's their problem. I don't feel bad for them at all if they lose, no matter how much of a bad guy my client is. It's not on my conscience of my client goes free, it's on the prosecutor's and his investigators. They're the ones that didn't do their job right. Btw, lesson number 1: If a child accuses your client of sexual assault, never refer to that child as a "victim" or even an "alleged victim." They are always to be referred to as the "accuser." [​IMG]
    Interesting. But this is just another empty rationalization designed to make you feel warm and tingly inside. I think it is trite to say that just because the almighty State can't prove a case, the case deserves to be lost. This argument mistakes ability for merit. No investigation is perfect, and even the most degenerate criminals get lucky. That doesn't serve as any real basis, in my mind, on which to edify the defense lawyer's work. The only explication I can give to the work of defense lawyers is through a theme already touched on by most of you. That is, the ethical dilemmas we (and all lawyers) face are an inevitable consequence of the system itself. Period. In other words, I think the worth of serving as a competent and vigorous defense lawyer is a matter of deferred value. Serving a guilty client and getting them off the hook is not a noble pursuit regardless of how you rationalize it; what IS noble is serving as a professional that keeps the State in line. 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. What I COULD see myself deriving pleasure from, however, is the knowledge that other folks - the ones worthy of compassion and rehabilitation - will somehow benefit from my representation down the road; that I am a member of an insulted community that deserves almost equal parts of praise and blame, and is somehow all the more noble because of it. At the end of the day, how many people have the DNA to become defense lawyers anyway? It's still such a bizarre profession in my mind. So dirty, yet so full of dignity.
     


  2. Grenadier

    Grenadier Senior member

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    Well, obviously you should not be a criminal defense attorney.
     


  3. munchausen

    munchausen Senior member

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    Why would you think you have the dna to be a defense attorney when you clearly disdain the work?
     


  4. Mr. White

    Mr. White Senior member

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  5. Krish the Fish

    Krish the Fish Senior member

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    Technically yes, practically no. The jury sees your client in defense chair and assumes he's guilty of something. Heck, most people assume that anyone who's ever arrested is guilty - if not of the specific crime charged, then of something pretty close to it.

    Citizens are relatively hesitant to call policemen liars, or to accept that they manufacture stories to ensure that their arrests stick.


    This is correct, as I can vouch for from personal experience. Hell, if I were in such a position, I would have a hard time believing that my client was innocent, but it isn't my place to be the arbiter. I merely am a piece of the legal puzzle. I must do, to the best of my ability, the best that I can possibly do for my client.

    But hell, I'm going to be a doctor, so this is all a moot point for me. But, as I've had close contact with the law very recently, I have a favorable impression of criminal defense attorneys and the jobs that they do.

    And I know that it must be very difficult for lawyers to keep their personal judgements aside from their profession. It's human nature to judge, and it is honorable that there are those that find it possible to do so (I know I can't, which is another reason why medicine is the field for me, and not the law)
     


  6. Sherman90

    Sherman90 Senior member

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    Why would you think you have the dna to be a defense attorney when you clearly disdain the work?
    Because I haven't lived it, so I'm in no real position to judge. And because I'd be very good. Also, I never said I had the DNA.
     


  7. Melcombe

    Melcombe Well-Known Member

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    This is correct, as I can vouch for from personal experience. Hell, if I were in such a position, I would have a hard time believing that my client was innocent, but it isn't my place to be the arbiter. I merely am a piece of the legal puzzle. I must do, to the best of my ability, the best that I can possibly do for my client.

    But hell, I'm going to be a doctor, so this is all a moot point for me. But, as I've had close contact with the law very recently, I have a favorable impression of criminal defense attorneys and the jobs that they do.

    And I know that it must be very difficult for lawyers to keep their personal judgements aside from their profession. It's human nature to judge, and it is honorable that there are those that find it possible to do so (I know I can't, which is another reason why medicine is the field for me, and not the law)


    One of the joys of a legal career is the chance to develop a corporate client practice - all sweet objectivity and calm consideration.

    Criminal defence work almost always means dealing with the general public : and generally the less hygienic end of the spectrum too.

    In medicine you have to deal with the public. And you have to touch them too...

    Good luck!
     


  8. Mr. White

    Mr. White Senior member

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  9. munchausen

    munchausen Senior member

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    Because I haven't lived it, so I'm in no real position to judge. And because I'd be very good.

    Also, I never said I had the DNA.


    My mistake. I misunderstood your last 2 sentences.

    But yes, I would say that nobody who feels the way you do should be a defense lawyer.
     


  10. in stitches

    in stitches Kung Joo Moderator

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    ...No, that's not at all what it means. You don't have the faintest idea what it means.

    A person is innocent, period. Not """quote""" assumed innocent."""unquote""" If you were arraigned for something you know you didn't do, and your lawyer was mouthing off in his office about how you're another scumbag sex offender who wants him to get you off on a technicality, and he'll take your money only because you're """quote""" assumed innocent,"""unquote""" you'd have to be mentally deranged to not walk out the door and find another lawyer who understood your rights and would fight for you to the last breath.


    why do you have to be such a fucktard, and why do you need to quote me out of context?

    im not so jaded as to think anybody with cuffs and a jumpsuit is guilty, and im not so naive as to think everybody is being wrongly accused.

    as i said, the premise here is that if a defence attorny knows his client did the deed shall we say, does he have any moral hangups about doing his job properly. that is why i put the words assumed innocent in quotation marks, as we are speaking specifically in the situation where a person has commited a crime but has not yet been convicted. such a person is not innocent in fact but rather assumed innocent in court.

    i am not an attorney, and i could be wrong here, but common sence dictates the meaning of innocent until proven guilty in a court of law as follows;

    only in a court of law are you innocent until proven guilty. if a person murderers someone he isnt innocent. period. a person is not as you say innocent period in this case. he is guilty period. however, specifically with regard to whether or not he will be scentenced/ punished in a court of law, he is treated as innocent until proven otherwise. if such a person is for some reason or another not convicted he has not magically become innocent, he is still guilty and the justice system has failed the citizens which it intends to protect.

    innocent until proven guilty is not a point in fact, it is simply a legal premise that the united states legal system has adopted.
     


  11. Grenadier

    Grenadier Senior member

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    If you don't even believe that your client is innocent, how do you expect to convince others that your client is innocent?
     


  12. in stitches

    in stitches Kung Joo Moderator

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    If you don't even believe that your client is innocent, how do you expect to convince others that your client is innocent?

    even if you know he is guilty you are still required to do your job to the best of your abilities. if you cant i think you are supposed to walk away and find other counsil for your client. also its not always about convincing people. there are other ways to defend your client
     


  13. CouttsClient

    CouttsClient Senior member

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    why do you have to be such a fucktard, and why do you need to quote me out of context? im not so jaded as to think anybody with cuffs and a jumpsuit is guilty, and im not so naive as to think everybody is being wrongly accused. as i said, the premise here is that if a defence attorny knows his client did the deed shall we say, does he have any moral hangups about doing his job properly. that is why i put the words assumed innocent in quotation marks, as we are speaking specifically in the situation where a person has commited a crime but has not yet been convicted. such a person is not innocent in fact but rather assumed innocent in court. i am not an attorney, and i could be wrong here, but common sence dictates the meaning of innocent until proven guilty in a court of law as follows; only in a court of law are you innocent until proven guilty. if a person murderers someone he isnt innocent. period. a person is not as you say innocent period in this case. he is guilty period. however, specifically with regard to whether or not he will be scentenced/ punished in a court of law, he is treated as innocent until proven otherwise. if such a person is for some reason or another not convicted he has not magically become innocent, he is still guilty and the justice system has failed the citizens which it intends to protect. innocent until proven guilty is not a point in fact, it is simply a legal premise that the united states legal system has adopted.
    The way I understand it is that the client IS innocent until it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he is not. Not assumed innocent. The attorney needs to believe he isn't guilty of the crime he is accused of committing if there is to be a chance of success defending the client
     


  14. in stitches

    in stitches Kung Joo Moderator

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    The way I understand it is that the client IS innocent until it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he is not. Not assumed innocent. The attorney needs to believe he isn't guilty of the crime he is accused of committing if there is to be a chance of success defending the client

    i think we are playing on semantics at this point. someone who kills someone is not innocent in fact, there is no arguing that point. in law however if you want to call him innocent instead of assumed innocent thats fine by me. it means the same thing, that he wont be convicted in a court of law until his factual guilt can be proven legally. he is therefore legally innocent you could say. but not innocent in fact.

    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.
     


  15. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    . The attorney needs to believe he isn't guilty of the crime he is accused of committing if there is to be a chance of success defending the client

    Not true at all. I don't bear the burden of proving my client innocent, the State bears the burden of proving him guilty. So, I don't have to believe in his innocence to successfully defend him. I have to show that the State cannot prove his guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, that's it.
     


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