How do horrible people get lawyers?

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Something I've always wondered, so I'm calling all law-smart people here. In cases such as James Holmes (Colorado theater shooting) and Jared Loughner (Tucson shooting) where the acts committed are so atrocious, how in the world can they find someone willing to represent them? And how can they be sure this lawyer is actually trying to defend them as they should?
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Because lawyers believe in the law. They take their job seriously.
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Obamacare is not a blueprint for socialism. You're thinking of the New Testament. ~~ John Fugelsang



Horrible people aren't always criminals. Sometimes they become lawyers.
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I assume public defenders have to take whoever they get assigned to.

I had to testify in court recently and I was giving the PD the stink eye the entire time. I know he was doing his job, but he knew his client was guilty and full of ****.
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whether we like it or not, one of the tenets of common law is that EVERYONE is entitled to a defence before the law; no matter what they've done.

my co-workers and i used to boggle at the fact that the man who was convicted of a child murder here at our courthouse this spring had a young woman as one of his legal team.



it's something i still can't understand...
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I think a lot of times it's really popular to hate defense attorneys. Or to hate litigators who sue, say, a college for ignoring years of systematic abuse. it's easy to hate them... until we need them ourselves.


Obamacare is not a blueprint for socialism. You're thinking of the New Testament. ~~ John Fugelsang



Because these people are still innocent until proven guilty by due process of the law, and they are fully entitled to a vigorous defense. A good defense lawyer lives and breathes this.
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Because lawyers believe in the law. They take their job seriously.
Originally Posted by Springcurl
And people are entitled to a defense. If all lawyers do their job and do it well, justice is served.
~Two friends, one soul inspired~ anonymous
whether we like it or not, one of the tenets of common law is that EVERYONE is entitled to a defence before the law; no matter what they've done.

my co-workers and i used to boggle at the fact that the man who was convicted of a child murder here at our courthouse this spring had a young woman as one of his legal team.



it's something i still can't understand...
Originally Posted by rouquinne
To be honset, I don't understand why this puzzles you. Because of her gender?

I think it would be hard for a parent, regardless of gender, especially if the kid was around the same age as the victim.
Josephine, curlyarca and scrills like this.
I think a lot of times it's really popular to hate defense attorneys. Or to hate litigators who sue, say, a college for ignoring years of systematic abuse. it's easy to hate them... until we need them ourselves.
Originally Posted by Springcurl
You're absolutely right. But when you're the victim, it's hard to accept that. I'm normally a very objective person, but seeing a perpetrator lie on stand and have his PDs defend him is infuriating. Especially when the crime is against a person. And especially when said perp commits the same or similar crime the day he gets out..

But the ADA must have gotten her law degree from a Cracker Jack box. She totally dropped the ball. And it's the State's job to prove their case. It's still irritating, though.

eta: Obviously this is my own personal situation I'm talking about. In every day life, I agree that everyone deserves a good defense.
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Last edited by Po; 07-23-2012 at 10:14 AM.
Criminal law was the type of law which interested me, and the reason I chose not to go into law.

Theoretically, I believe that everyone deserves the best defense possible. Emotionally, I know I would have a very hard time defending someone I believed was guilty. And I definitely don't look for people to be guilty in the way you'd need to in order to be a prosecutor.

Ideally, all lawyers would be skilled and all defendants would get a strong defense, and all prosecutors would be equally skilled. Unfortunately, the non-private attorneys typically are so overworked without resources for the investigation they need, that as we've seen in high profile cases it's those who can afford private attorneys who tend to get off more often when they are guilty.

My dad's belief was always that it is better to have ten guilty men go free than imprison even a single innocent person. Though of course in a utopia the final results of a case would always be correct.


Incidentally, I think the court assigned a lawyer I used to work for to Loughner for the state case, but all that has happened so far has been on the federal case. I haven't heard/read anything lately to know that for sure.
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the reason i had so much trouble with it is because this woman had young children and also because it turned out that the man she was defending was a serial womanizer who sought out single mothers with young daughters.

disclosure indicates that she knew this - and still joined the defence team; something i couldn't have done.

i was even more shocked by the jurors who were parents of small children who said that they would be able to be impartial at trial. a LOT of the jury pool was excused when they admitted they couldn't handle it.

i guess i'm not that strong...
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Little Mother of all the Roaches, President-for-Life of the MAC Harlots!
Where I live it is usually a few high-profile lawyers who are defending the "bad" people.

If the case is controversial or has high-public interest, lawyer A or B or C is usually on the defense team.

They are not public defenders/court-appointed lawyers. I don't know how people can afford them.
When I was a court stenographer it was very hard to sit in the courtroom with some of these defendants. I could not defend them if I were a lawyer, but I do support their right to a vigorous defense... especially so that when/if they are convicted they will not have a leg to stand on on appeal.
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Obamacare is not a blueprint for socialism. You're thinking of the New Testament. ~~ John Fugelsang



Yes, I imagine that would be hard.

Maybe she felt she needed to prove herself to her colleagues and superiors by taking on a difficult case, or has gotten good at dissociating her work from her private life. Or she's a tough cookie. Or needed the money. Or all of the above.
rouquinne likes this.
I suppose unless you have your own practice you cannot readily refuse to defend a client the partners of your firm assign to you.
Amneris likes this.
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Ime, yes, you can (re: above). I worked with a woman who refused to defend an alleged child molester, so another attorney in the firm (male) took the case.

Lawyers are rarely interested in innocence or guilt; rather, in the challenge of constructing a viable case. And trial lawyers, criminal defense or otherwise, are showmen (or women). They love the performance aspect, and the joy of winning a tough case (more money! more prestige!).

Sadly, I have a theory about the percentage of humanity left in most lawyers after they finish law school: about 30 per cent.

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Ime, yes, you can (re: above). I worked with a woman who refused to defend an alleged child molester, so another attorney in the firm (male) took the case.

Lawyers are rarely interested in innocence or guilt; rather, in the challenge of constructing a viable case. And trial lawyers, criminal defense or otherwise, are showmen (or women). They love the performance aspect, and the joy of winning a tough case (more money! more prestige!).

Sadly, I have a theory about the percentage of humanity left in most lawyers after they finish law school: about 30 per cent.
Originally Posted by claudine19
Really.

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Ime, yes, you can (re: above). I worked with a woman who refused to defend an alleged child molester, so another attorney in the firm (male) took the case.

Lawyers are rarely interested in innocence or guilt; rather, in the challenge of constructing a viable case. And trial lawyers, criminal defense or otherwise, are showmen (or women). They love the performance aspect, and the joy of winning a tough case (more money! more prestige!).

Sadly, I have a theory about the percentage of humanity left in most lawyers after they finish law school: about 30 per cent.
Originally Posted by claudine19
Really.
Originally Posted by curlyarca
30 per cent may be a bit low, but I don't disagree that that does happen to more than a few people. Many others didn't come in with much humanity to start.

It's not a lawyer's job to worry about innocence or guilt. That's up to the jury and/or judge. A prosecutor's job is to find the truth and a defense lawyer's job is to zealously but ethically advocate for his or her client and safeguard their rights. The lawyer's job is to assess the evidence before them and construct a theory of the case that has a shot at success and figure out the most effective way to present it. Not all lawyers will get money or prestige for their "wins" (ie. legal aid lawyers.)

It's funny that people so often ask this question about lawyers. Rescuers rescue "bad" people, doctors treat bad people, teachers teach bad people, etc. etc. etc. and don't seem to get so much flak for it.

As for myself, I have defended people ACCUSED of all kinds of stuff. It is not my job to judge that, nor did I have any choice as to which clients I would or would not take (you generally need to be quite senior to have that option, or work for yourself, or be willing to take a huge stand on a significant concern.) My clients were accused of doing "bad" things, but some of them had had horrific lives, were victims of terrible abuse and atrocious living conditions, had few options in life, etc. That doesn't necessarily excuse their actions, but to me, part of having humanity is seeing the humanity in other people no matter who they are or what they have done.

And winning for me really isn't about my ego - it's about giving someone a second chance, or holding the state accountable for ITS bad behaviour. Even if the Crown wins, if I've made it work in having to prove its case and being fair, I am OK with that.
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Last edited by Amneris; 07-23-2012 at 08:35 PM.

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