Legal Quandary

Sunday, May 18, 2008

You Know You're Really A Lawyer When...

You're amazed when otherwise fair and rational people ask you questions like "How could you ever defend someone who is on trial for Crime X?!!!"

It's a purely academic question for me at this point since I'm a prosecutor, but I've been asked this question twice in the last week - and both times I was completely flabbergasted. Primarily because neither of the people (both of whom I like and respect) ever considered that just because a person is accused of a crime doesn't mean he or she actually committed it. They both also seemed to assume that the defense attorney always "knows" their client did the crime and is somehow manipulating the system to get their client off on "technicalities."

Did I used to think that way too?

I mention the word "prosecutor" and I never get that question. I guess I saw too many Perry Mason episodes growing up so I always assume someone else did it and will confess in the courtroom ;-)
Forget that, when I get that question I usually go into a spiel about the importance of the process that prevents the sheriff from coming to someone's house in the middle of the night looking for evidence. I start to mount my high horse before my wife smacks me to shut me up.

Though I'm not a lawyer yet. (J.D. yes, bar exam in July....can't wait! Then I get offered by base by the USAF, *crosses fingers*)
Personally, I am so glad defendants have lawyers. There is nothing worse than when someone goes pro se. The thing is without legal training there are very few people in this world who should represent themselves. And even if someone is guilty they should be treated fairly. It's hard to have that happen without representation.
My best friend is a public defender and she gets this question a LOT. She responds pretty much the same way that legalgoofy does. The system simply doesn't work and can't be fair to all without vigorous defense to keep everyone playing by the rules. Even then, we send innocent people to jail sometimes.
I have NO IDEA who "class" is -- I certainly don't recall ever creating such a profile -- but that's my comment there! :)
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