What’s your opinion on defense lawyers defending someone whom they know is guilty?
The unavoidable fact is that defense attorneys who knowingly* abet a guilty defendant in avoiding justice are doing wrong, and they know it, but they have either willingly thrown in their lot with the criminals or allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the legal profession (“everyone has a right to a good defense,” “it’s the prosecutions’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt”), so that the cognitive dissonance can be conveniently ignored.
Defense attorneys were never intended to prevent the guilty from avoiding accountability and justice (the innocent deserve protection from meritless prosecution and the guilty deserve protection from malicious prosecution), but now cheating justice is the modern definition of what a “good” defense attorney does, is expected to do, and is expected to take pride in doing.
There are circumstances in which an attorney can with a truly and perfectly clear conscience defend a person he knows to be guilty. One such situation is when the prosecution seeks an inordinately harsh punishment that is not commensurate with the severity of the crime.
Another situation is when the defendant is guilty of one crime or another, yet being framed for a different crime that he/she did not commit.
Another situation is when the law itself is unjust such that the “guilty” defendant does not deserve to be punished for disobeying the unjust law.
Bamboozling the judge and/or jury into an acquittal, however, is not a defense lawyer’s job and never has been.
*While it is true that “it’s the prosecutions’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” it is not the defense attorney’s duty to create an illusion of reasonable doubt.
Unless an attorney is ordered to defend a defendant (and that happens in many, many criminal defense cases where the defendant is appointed counsel and the appointed attorney has no choice in the matter), he/she has the choice as to whether he/she takes the case.
So why defend a person you know to be guilty?
When you see a situation you cannot understand, look for the financial interest.
— Tom Johnson (1854-1911)
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
— Upton Sinclair
Never argue with a man whose job depends on not being convinced.
(attributed to H. L. Mencken)
*If a defense attorney does not know whether his/her client is guilty, and if the defendant professes innocence, then the attorney’s job—which the attorney can do all day long with a clear conscience and with honor—is to cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s claims of guilt. That, in a nutshell, is the defense attorney’s purpose.
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