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Harleyquiiinn
01-19-2010, 02:38 PM
So, I am not a criminal lawyer right now. But I know this is where my future is leading because I feel it is what I need to do.

Everytime I say that, people told me: But what will you do if you have to defend a 50 year old pedophile who raped a 6 year old little girl ?

And every time, I have no idea. How am I supposed to know ? I've never been in that case. And how would you react ?

If I defend him, that doesn't mean I approve. But if I defend him so well that he gets a lighter sentence ? Is that fair ?

Normally, I'd say that defending a guilty person is only right. With "defending" I don't mean "lying to prove that the guy is not guilty". I mean "understanding and explaining why he did it". Because that is really what defense is.
It is only right because you have a prosecutor. The prosecutor will ask for the heaviest sentence, cause that's his job and I will ask for the lightest one. The final sentence should be a fair compromise that the judge makes with all the cards in hand.

But when you defend something so terrible and that the person gets a lighter sentence that what you think he should have had, should you feel guilty about it ? Is that the lawyer's fault ? Or is it fair ?

Worst ! If you are confronted to a case where you know the guy is guilty but you see a flaw in the procedure that could get him released ? (this is EXTREMELY rare for big cases though), should you use it ?

DMelges
01-19-2010, 02:50 PM
I would hate to defend a person I know is guilty. I mean, if the guy robbed a candy store, I'd defend him so that he gets a lighter sentence. But a pedophile? A serial killer? I would'nt feel good about defending a person who deserves the worst sentence possible.

But I guess a criminal lawyer doesn't have much choice. Or does he? Is he allowed to choose wich case he takes? Or does the court choose a lawyer (pay him aswell), to defend someone?

The Talking Pie
01-19-2010, 02:55 PM
It would stand to reason that he's innocent until proven guilty, so you're essentially defending someone who may not have even done anything wrong.

If he's already been proven guilty then I'd be wondering what the trial was about. If he was caught on camera and that was brought to the court's attention at the beginning of the trial then your job would be disaster management, not trying to help him 'get away with it'.

I really see no moral issue. Not unless you want to be crooked. In which case there's also no moral issue.

Harleyquiiinn
01-19-2010, 02:59 PM
I would hate to defend a person I know is guilty. I mean, if the guy robbed a candy store, I'd defend him so that he gets a lighter sentence. But a pedophile? A serial killer? I would'nt feel good about defending a person who deserves the worst sentence possible.

But I guess a criminal lawyer doesn't have much choice. Or does he? Is he allowed to choose wich case he takes? Or does the court choose a lawyer (pay him aswell), to defend someone?

It depends. If the offender has money, then he can get his own lawyer. If he doesn't want to or if he doesn't want to, one is assigned to him by the Bar and paid by the state.

Offspringfan> Yes but if I do that, who is going to defend him ? If he deserves the heaviest sentence, he should get it but that's the judge to decide. If I decide to not really defend it, am I not doing the work of a judge ? And if I do that, what is the point of a trial at all ?

Edit to the Talking Pie> Except that when you are a lawyer, you know when the guy is guilty or not. If he is guilty, you don't have the right to defend him as "not guilty" (not in France anyway). And the point of a trial for a guilty person is that the criminal code only codifies maximum sentences. Sometimes, a guy is guilty but has tons of reasons. For example "yes he murdered a guy but the guy hurt his wife" or things like that. The point of defense is to explain to the judge why that happened so he can make the right decision and give the right sentence...
So there is a moral issue.
A guy who had sex with an 8 year old but was sexually abused when he was a child and is a little bit retarded. You need to say these things.

PedroACastro
01-19-2010, 03:02 PM
So, I am not a criminal lawyer right now. But I know this is where my future is leading because I feel it is what I need to do.

Everytime I say that, people told me: But what will you do if you have to defend a 50 year old pedophile who raped a 6 year old little girl ?

And every time, I have no idea. How am I supposed to know ? I've never been in that case. And how would you react ?

If I defend him, that doesn't mean I approve. But if I defend him so well that he gets a lighter sentence ? Is that fair ?

Normally, I'd say that defending a guilty person is only right. With "defending" I don't mean "lying to prove that the guy is not guilty". I mean "understanding and explaining why he did it". Because that is really what defense is.
It is only right because you have a prosecutor. The prosecutor will ask for the heaviest sentence, cause that's his job and I will ask for the lightest one. The final sentence should be a fair compromise that the judge makes with all the cards in hand.

But when you defend something so terrible and that the person gets a lighter sentence that what you think he should have had, should you feel guilty about it ? Is that the lawyer's fault ? Or is it fair ?

Worst ! If you are confronted to a case where you know the guy is guilty but you see a flaw in the procedure that could get him released ? (this is EXTREMELY rare for big cases though), should you use it ?

can't you stick with just prossecution or do you really want just to defend people? i'm not sure what i would do in that situation if i knew the guy was guilty but still had to do my job.. of course it depends on the crime the guy was being charged with. i don't think i would have the heart to defend a pedophile or a murderer or something along those lines

Paint_It_Black
01-19-2010, 03:02 PM
Right, like Pie said, just follow the law. Your client is innocent until proven guilty. You just do your job to the best of your ability within the boundaries of the law. You shouldn't have any guilt. You would be an essential part of the system. And it might not be a great system, but it's the best we have.

DMelges
01-19-2010, 03:11 PM
A guy who had sex with an 8 year old but was sexually abused when he was a child and is a little bit retarded. You need to say these things.

Yeah, this you can defend. A person committed a crime because he is mentally sick or something. Then you can lighten his sentence and instead of sending him to jail, you send him to a hospital.

But when the guy is simply evil, and everyone in the court knows it, you really are defending a lost cause.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the guy who attempted the Christmas day attack, who had explosives in his underwear, pleaded innocent in court. So no, he's not innocent until proven guilty.

It really does depend on the case.

Harleyquiiinn
01-19-2010, 03:13 PM
can't you stick with just prossecution or do you really want just to defend people? i'm not sure what i would do in that situation if i knew the guy was guilty but still had to do my job.. of course it depends on the crime the guy was being charged with. i don't think i would have the heart to defend a pedophile or a murderer or something along those lines

Prosectuors in France are judges. I mean, they are a type of judges, not the ones who actually give the sentence. So attorneys can't be prosecutors. They always defend the offender or the "civil party", the victim.


Right, like Pie said, just follow the law. Your client is innocent until proven guilty. You just do your job to the best of your ability within the boundaries of the law. You shouldn't have any guilt. You would be an essential part of the system. And it might not be a great system, but it's the best we have.

Yes of course, I will always defend as best as I can. But this ability is the problem.I agree with you and Pie of course... but there are limits to this. I am not sure it is possible to defend just anybody. And if I defend the best I can and the guy gets released because the policeman didn't sign the paper right and I'm the one who says it, I don't think I could rest easy...

I'm not talking about me precisely, I'd really like your opinion in general about where do you think you could stop ? and what would you do ? And also, do you think that everybody should be defended ?

Paint_It_Black
01-19-2010, 03:13 PM
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the guy who attempted the Christmas day attack, who had explosives in his underwear, pleaded innocent in court. So no, he's not innocent until proven guilty.

Actually yes, still innocent until proven guilty. It's kind of an important concept.

Superdope
01-19-2010, 03:14 PM
I watched Matlock in a bar last night. The sound wasn't on but I think I got the gist of it.

Paint_It_Black
01-19-2010, 03:21 PM
And also, do you think that everybody should be defended ?

They have to be, of course. You can't even have the slightest illusion of a fair and just system unless you begin with the assumption that everyone is innocent. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. If they can't manage to prove that the defendant is guilty then the defendant is not guilty.

But yeah, it would be a tough job. I'm not certain if I could do it or not. But someone has to, I'm sure of that much.

The Talking Pie
01-19-2010, 03:21 PM
Edit to the Talking Pie> Except that when you are a lawyer, you know when the guy is guilty or not. If he is guilty, you don't have the right to defend him as "not guilty" (not in France anyway). And the point of a trial for a guilty person is that the criminal code only codifies maximum sentences. Sometimes, a guy is guilty but has tons of reasons. For example "yes he murdered a guy but the guy hurt his wife" or things like that. The point of defense is to explain to the judge why that happened so he can make the right decision and give the right sentence...
So there is a moral issue.

Isn't that exactly what I said? You're doing disaster management based on the facts, not trying to help someone get away with something.

The Talking Pie
01-19-2010, 03:23 PM
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the guy who attempted the Christmas day attack, who had explosives in his underwear, pleaded innocent in court. So no, he's not innocent until proven guilty.

But what if he was innocent? What if he was framed, or if he was an unwitting carrier of those explosives and just said the wrong things when confronted? We have trials to get these details; you can't assume guilt beforehand, even if it seems obvious.

DMelges
01-19-2010, 04:01 PM
But what if he was innocent? What if he was framed, or if he was an unwitting carrier of those explosives and just said the wrong things when confronted? We have trials to get these details; you can't assume guilt beforehand, even if it seems obvious.

He's an Al Qaeda terrorist. He wasn't framed nor an unwitting carrier of those explosives. And I'm sure if he was he would have tried to say so, and not just remain silent until pleading innocent from all charges. Even his father warned the CIA that he's dangerous and was thinking of committing a terrorist attack.

Like I said, in THIS case, he is 100% guilty. No doubt about it.

But in other cases, you do need the trials to get all the details.

nameless
01-19-2010, 04:03 PM
its probably one of those things that comes with the job. every profession has situations people hate or dont want to deal with. i know with a situation like that personal feelings may come into play but like people mention, innocent until proven guilty and if your suspecting they are guilty or your put off by whats apparently happened, its gonna be a disaster from the start!

The Talking Pie
01-19-2010, 04:25 PM
He's an Al Qaeda terrorist. He wasn't framed nor an unwitting carrier of those explosives. And I'm sure if he was he would have tried to say so, and not just remain silent until pleading innocent from all charges. Even his father warned the CIA that he's dangerous and was thinking of committing a terrorist attack.

Like I said, in THIS case, he is 100% guilty. No doubt about it.

But in other cases, you do need the trials to get all the details.

But you're using assumptions ("I'm sure if he was...") to justify your claims about his innocence. You can never know anything for certain. Osama Bin Laden could be caught on an aeroplane that later blows up and it wouldn't automatically mean that he was responsible. That's why we have the trial.

The trial is what decides the outcome, reliability and weight of the preliminary evidence, not what the tabloids and internet gossips say. Innocent people have gone to jail before on the basis of poor trials and overwhelming evidence that, in fact, was just unfortunate coincidence. The system needs to be adhered to.

What if you were honest-to-God innocent of something when all the evidence pointed against you, and you and you alone knew it, while the rest of the world was condemning you as a murderer or terrorist?

If someone's guilty, the system should prove that. The second you start negating the importance of trials without having a flawless closed-system judgement alternative, you're opening a huge can of worms. It's not like giving a trial to a man who everyone 'knows' is a terrorist is really going to result in him 'getting away with it', only him being proven guilty or having the opportunity to prove his supposed innocence.

DMelges
01-19-2010, 04:46 PM
But you're using assumptions ("I'm sure if he was...") to justify your claims about his innocence. You can never know anything for certain. Osama Bin Laden could be caught on an aeroplane that later blows up and it wouldn't automatically mean that he was responsible. That's why we have the trial.

The trial is what decides the outcome, reliability and weight of the preliminary evidence, not what the tabloids and internet gossips say. Innocent people have gone to jail before on the basis of poor trials and overwhelming evidence that, in fact, was just unfortunate coincidence. The system needs to be adhered to.

What if you were honest-to-God innocent of something when all the evidence pointed against you, and you and you alone knew it, while the rest of the world was condemning you as a murderer or terrorist?

If someone's guilty, the system should prove that. The second you start negating the importance of trials without having a flawless closed-system judgement alternative, you're opening a huge can of worms. It's not like giving a trial to a man who everyone 'knows' is a terrorist is really going to result in him 'getting away with it', only him being proven guilty or having the opportunity to prove his supposed innocence.


Although I do agree with you, I think we're fleeing from the subject a bit.

The thread is about the hypothetical situation of you yourself defending a man that you're gut instinct tells you is guilty. And how to deal with that situation. How to defend such person.

Yes, if someone's guilty, and the system works, the system shall prove so. But we're talking about the personal side here. The court will decide on paper wether the guy is guilty or not, but would you be capable of defending a person you know, you feel, is guilty?

You also commented on how all the evidence can point against you, even when you're innocent. What about the other way around? When you are guilty, but there isn't enough evidence to prove so.

You saw that guy pull the trigger, but where's the gun?

Something you just reminded me of as well. Remember how Dexter ran that marathon to raise money for a corporation that helps the cause of innocent people thrown in jail? Can't remember the name of it...

AllIn All It's Not So Bad
01-19-2010, 04:59 PM
Maybe you do'nt actully Have to defend him.Make it look like you're doing a bunch of cool court stuff.Point and people,Yell alot,Slam a suitcase against a table or something...

renato you suck at alting.
i'll reply to your topic later harley. kinda busy. just noticed renato's writing style.

jacknife737
01-19-2010, 07:53 PM
Guilt or innocence should be irrelevant to a good lawyer. It's not their job, nor duty to determine that fact.

In my highschool law class we had a "day in court", where we spent the day in our city's courthouse observing criminal cases. One of which invovled kiddie porn: afterwards someone asked the deface lawyer how he could defend someone who is most likely guilty. He simply replied that all he has to do is to ensure that whomever he defends gets a fair trail, and that all evidence in support of their position is heard by the court.

All should be assumed to be innocent until proven guilty, no matter what the court of public opinion decides.

Harleyquiiinn
01-20-2010, 12:28 AM
Guilt or innocence should be irrelevant to a good lawyer. It's not their job, nor duty to determine that fact.

In my highschool law class we had a "day in court", where we spent the day in our city's courthouse observing criminal cases. One of which invovled kiddie porn: afterwards someone asked the deface lawyer how he could defend someone who is most likely guilty. He simply replied that all he has to do is to ensure that whomever he defends gets a fair trail, and that all evidence in support of their position is heard by the court.

All should be assumed to be innocent until proven guilty, no matter what the court of public opinion decides.

:) This is so incredibly cool that you have Highschool law class in Canada.

That is what I think. Because I am a young lawyer, because that is what I should think and that is of course what has to be done. But that is just conceptual. It is very reinsuring to see that most of you think defense is absolutely necessary.

It is the same for presumption of innocence. It is a beautiful concept. But sometime, we all know the person is guilty and it's ridiculous to hear on the radio the "presumed innocent". But it is an absolutely necessary concept because except for a few, sometime we don't know. and It guarantees that the judge is impartial, at least in apparence. But it's a concept. It is very very difficult to consider someone as innocent when you deeply think his guilty and therefore, an asshole... look at how Renato was treated here ? Of course I am NOT comparing this message board to real life justice. What I want to explain is that a difference has to be done between a concept of fair trial and the humans inside that trial.

Duskygrin> You are right, French and Anglo-Saxon trials are different. The trial in the second category can be made to discover proofs and to determine if the guy was guilty or not.
In France, the investigation, we call it the instruction, is made before by a "juge de l'instruction", a supposedly impartial judge who uses the police to investigate and gather proofs or guilt or innocence. We don't have "guilty" or "not guilty". If the guy is sent to trial by this judge, he will be considered guilty in most cases. The point is to determine and explain the circumstances and give a fair sentence.
But as you probably know, that is going to end soon. I don't think the "Juge de l'instruction" will survive Mr Sarkozy... too bad... :(

Actually, I was very curious about your views, considering this is a pretty international board with different personnalities... I am very pleased to read your messages.

The truth is that if we have a case, even when it is assigned to us, that we feel so uncomfortable with, we can refuse, because it wouldn't be right, as an attorney, to defend someone knowing that, as a human being, you cannot give your best defense.

Paint_It_Black
01-20-2010, 12:57 AM
We have the luxury of assuming that Renato is guilty (with no proof beyond his own confession) because we are not in any way involved in prosecuting him. So, basically, we don't have to hold ourselves to any standard other than what feels right. Those involved in deciding the fate of an offender don't have this luxury. And yes, of course you may have a personal opinion regarding the guilt or innocence of your client, but professionalism and in a sense the legitimacy of the entire system is dependant on whether you can ignore your personal feelings and perform your job in an emotionally detached and neutral manner.

Right?

Harleyquiiinn
01-20-2010, 02:17 AM
We have the luxury of assuming that Renato is guilty (with no proof beyond his own confession) because we are not in any way involved in prosecuting him. So, basically, we don't have to hold ourselves to any standard other than what feels right. Those involved in deciding the fate of an offender don't have this luxury. And yes, of course you may have a personal opinion regarding the guilt or innocence of your client, but professionalism and in a sense the legitimacy of the entire system is dependant on whether you can ignore your personal feelings and perform your job in an emotionally detached and neutral manner.

Right?

Of course. (Jap smiley that I love but I am too lazy to hotlink).
And if I feel I can't, I will simply deport from the case, as I should.
You are right about Renato, that is why I said I was in no way comparing. I was just saying that the concepts are great, but it is an illusion to think that human feelings don't exist, no matter how much you believe in these concepts.


Yes, it infuriated me on principle when I got wind of it.
On what account dare he interfere with the legislature? Do they tell him how to best do his job? By right under the fifth republic, he should stick to foreign diplomacy and to representing us abroad.

Nice quote :)

Actually, the president and his government have every right to propose modifications in criminal procedure. Since Sarko has been in charge of these things (2002), the procedure changed 6 or 7 times.

Now, on this particular problem, the only problem really, is that he wants to suppress the juge d'instruction but without making the prosecution independant (when the JI is) from the executive and without enforcing the rights of defense, namely, the presence of an attorney at every state of the procedure.

To sum up: we will gonna have the worst criminal procedure in the whole Europe and it's quite scary. Also, don't expect any case involving rich and powerful friends of Sarko the 1st anytime soon...

Llamas
01-20-2010, 03:04 AM
I don't really understand law enough to give a smart reply, but I don't think I could deal with a lot of it. Sometimes you have to defend people who plead innocent, but even YOU don't believe they're innocent... there's no way I could defend that person. As PiB said, someone's gotta do it, because just because I don't believe the person is innocent, doesn't mean they aren't. I'm glad some people are willing to do it.

I gotta say, though... the fact that you clearly have a conscience about this make me think you're the ideal person for this job. It's always seemed like too many criminal lawyers are totally okay with defending bad people, because it makes them feel good that they outwitted everyone... or something. I think you seem very honest and real about it, and that could make you a very good candidate for such a role.

Paint_It_Black
01-20-2010, 04:08 AM
It's always seemed like too many criminal lawyers are totally okay with defending bad people, because it makes them feel good that they outwitted everyone... or something.

I mean absolutely no offense here, but I have to ask. Do you have experience with this other than tv and movies? Because I get that impression myself from many tv shows and movies, but in real life I have no idea what they are like but find it difficult to imagine there are too many people with no scrap of conscience at all.

Harleyquiiinn
01-20-2010, 04:17 AM
Thank you Ilovellamas, I really appreciate that you say that. I sure hope I am good enough :o


I mean absolutely no offense here, but I have to ask. Do you have experience with this other than tv and movies? Because I get that impression myself from many tv shows and movies, but in real life I have no idea what they are like but find it difficult to imagine there are too many people with no scrap of conscience at all.

Actually, in real life, criminal lawyers are the minority. They are extremely rare. You have every kind of lawyers. When I was in Bar School, on 70 people, we were 2 to be interested in Criminal law. Ironically, the other one got killed outside of a club...

Surely there must be some of them who do it just to win, no matter what the circumstances are (like Gordon Bombay ;) ) but I guess most of them have just a true and honest passion for defense and justice. I know it might seem naive but let's not forget that they are a minority in the first place.
Also, they surely don't do it for the money :D I mean, except if you defend someone like Phil Spector, most of your clients are broke...

Llamas
01-20-2010, 05:19 AM
I mean absolutely no offense here, but I have to ask. Do you have experience with this other than tv and movies? Because I get that impression myself from many tv shows and movies, but in real life I have no idea what they are like but find it difficult to imagine there are too many people with no scrap of conscience at all.

I honestly haven't watched much in the way of law shows or whatever. I've met a number of lawyers who just would crack jokes about "hoping" their clients were innocent and stuff. And I've heard a few brag about winning in court, often implying they didn't believe the person was innocent, and using that to make it seem more impressive. One of these people I met on an overseas flight, one had just graduated law school and was dating my friend (and was extremely mentally abusive to her, before she finally realized and ended it)... can't recall the others off the top of my head. But this was definitely from personal experience, though I could understand why you'd wonder this.

Jesus
01-20-2010, 05:21 AM
Don't worry, by the time you have passed through all the ranks and get such a case you won't have any morals left. ;)

Just defend them correctly, the right to a "fair trial" is the greater good. Besides it forces the other side to do a good investigation in which they might find links with other pedo's.

Little_Miss_1565
01-20-2010, 08:11 AM
Yeah, this you can defend. A person committed a crime because he is mentally sick or something. Then you can lighten his sentence and instead of sending him to jail, you send him to a hospital.

But when the guy is simply evil, and everyone in the court knows it, you really are defending a lost cause.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the guy who attempted the Christmas day attack, who had explosives in his underwear, pleaded innocent in court. So no, he's not innocent until proven guilty.

It really does depend on the case.

Unfortunately, being evil is not against the law -- just as being a mostly retarded half-human douche ape isn't against the rules on the forum, it makes like less convenient but ultimately what can you do since creating standards for intelligence and non-evilness ends up putting those in charge in the very awkward situation of judging these things. In the case of Abdulmutallab, I'm sure he didn't plead not guilty (which, by the way, is much different from "innocent," as "innocent" is no longer used in American courts) because he really believes he didn't do it, but rather because he wants to use his very public trial as a pulpit to preach his extremist views. Same with the 9/11 trials to come in NYC -- they just want to turn the trial into a circus and get their message of hate spread as far as they can.


But what if he was innocent? What if he was framed, or if he was an unwitting carrier of those explosives and just said the wrong things when confronted? We have trials to get these details; you can't assume guilt beforehand, even if it seems obvious.

You're not being serious here, right? If you are, might I recommend professional help? He was caught with his pants down -- literally.

ad8
01-20-2010, 09:58 AM
I think there should not be any problem if you objectively defend him. As you said, you don't have to act like you want this guy not to be sentenced. You're only doing your job and if you can trust the judges and the prosecutors you can also trust yourself while defending someone.

T-6005
01-20-2010, 10:06 AM
The thread is about the hypothetical situation of you yourself defending a man that you're gut instinct tells you is guilty.
Actually, at this point you're the only one who thinks it's still about that. This thread is about defense attorneys being an integral part of the justice system, and rightfully so.


He's an Al Qaeda terrorist. He wasn't framed nor an unwitting carrier of those explosives. And I'm sure if he was he would have tried to say so, and not just remain silent until pleading innocent from all charges. Even his father warned the CIA that he's dangerous and was thinking of committing a terrorist attack.

Like I said, in THIS case, he is 100% guilty. No doubt about it.
The fact that you have no doubt about it doesn't mean there is none. That's the point. The job is to find spots where there might be doubt, and where that doubt might be reasonable stacked against the rest of the case, and to present that to the court. The idea of attorneys is that they are presenters of evidence and interpreters of circumstance - as such they predate either guilt or innocence, which doesn't come from them. That's the fundamental thing you're missing.


But when the guy is simply evil, and everyone in the court knows it, you really are defending a lost cause.
I get the feeling I'm speaking to one right now.

DMelges
01-20-2010, 10:28 AM
I get the feeling I'm speaking to one right now.

hahahaha that's fine. I understand your point.

Sucks that now terrorists have new rights though.