How can lawyers put aside their consciences and defend heinous criminals effectively?
First, criminal defense attorney’s need not “put aside their consciences” to defend a criminal (accused or otherwise). There are four ways (starting with the best reasons and working our way down) that some (not all) lawyers can defend the accused, even though they know or strongly suspect the accused is guilty:
- because there may be a higher principle at stake than the accused’s guilt. For example, if an illegal search discovered drugs in the accused’s possession, some lawyers (including this lawyer) would have no qualms about defending the accused for the sake of defending him/her against the violation of his/her constitutional rights (because if the corrupt police officer is allowed to violate the accused’s rights, then he/she can violate yours too);
- because the lawyers have no choice: they are appointed to defend the accused because someone has to defend the accused, whether the lawyer wishes to defend the accused or not. The judge can force a lawyer to defend the accused, as the accused has a right to counsel.
- because the lawyers have consciences, but they justify defending anyone for any crime because they value the money over their virtue;
- because the lawyers have no consciences, and so they can defend anyone for any crime.
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