January 13, 2008

One way to build character

I have been sitting on the link to this Utah Bar Journal article by Ted Weckel for weeks now, coming back to it now and then, hoping to draft my response in a coherent way. I think I've failed in the attempt because my response to it changes from week to week, and I find myself of two minds (or more) as to what he's recommending. So here's the link - maybe you'd like to chew on it:

Helping Our Clients Tell the Truth: Rule of Professional Conduct 2.1 in Criminal Cases

(T)he fact remains that, on many occasions, we suspect that our clients are guilty of some crime – either after we have talked with them or after we have conducted a thorough investigation. If our clients tell us that they want to go to trial despite our
(emphasis added) conclusion that they are lying to us about their innocence, an interesting question presents itself. That question is whether... American Bar Association Model Rule of Professional Conduct 2.1 allow(s) us to advise our clients of their moral obligations to be honest to the courts, themselves and any victims, and to consider whether they should plead guilty, if they are in fact guilty, and accept responsibility for what they have done. We would provide such advice not only because the evidence may be stacked against our clients and a plea offer would benefit them – but because doing so would develop our clients’ character and weaken their ability to commit fraud upon the courts through their lawyers...

I take it that the author's approach is the same whether or not the client testifies. Perhaps you can see how I might be intrigued but not onboard. In my experience, vigorously confronting one's own clients is likely to make things go BOOM, and seldom in a productive way. Being in juvenile court adds a whole other layer of considerations, too.

Update: Scott Greenfield of Simple Justice chews it, shreds it, and spits it out like an enraged Malinois. As we southern Idahoans say, "Jiminy!"

3 Comments:

SHG said...

I would hate it if my message was vauge. But a Malinois? Was it that bad?

JSN said...

I am not in the law profession, nor a law student, but an amateur student of history and politics.

Part of me wishes more defense was involved in making sure every police I was dotted and every constitutional T was crossed, and that every mitigating circumstance was presented and every false insinuation countered...

...rather than actually trying to get guilty people a Not Guilty verdict.

Can you really blame me?

Anonymous said...

My son agrees with you. But then, he's only 7 years old, and he says Scooby Do always catches the bad guy by the end of the show.