To ask how defending Lawyers/Solicitors sleep at night.

(461 Posts)
lollilou Tue 09-Oct-12 10:43:43

When they are defending someone who is accused of a horrible crime and that they know are guilty yet have to come up with a defense to try to get a not guilty verdict? It must happen a lot, how could you live with yourself in that situation? What if the accused gets off then commits another crime?

ThatVikRinA22 Mon 15-Oct-12 22:47:33

i dont mix up compassion with personal involvement - but the stresses of the job do bother me.

when i go to jobs, i rarely find out what happens, and i think its much as WF says - i do switch off when i go home, i think by now, having been to many different and some very harrowing things, if you really got personally involved it would hurt., that has never stopped me from hugging someone who needs it, or doing what i can to help in a horrible or difficult situation.

the problem for me is the workload, watching my crime list grow, taking on more and more work without managing to sort anything out due to lack of numbers on group/time - i worry that i cannot give my best when im trying to do so many things at once.

its that i find difficult and stressful. its lack of time to do those things because the radio is going again.

sometimes though - solicitors must know they have someone guilty but know if they go no comment, they might get off on a technicality? i had a shoplifter caught red handed, but the witness didnt leave details with the store detective, and due to no one having seen the theft, they got off. it was my first shoplifter, i didnt have a clue about stock check evidence, so a member of a large criminal gang walked free. no one can tell me the solicitor didnt know that, she knew i didnt have stock check evidence, she knew if he went no comment he walked. im not sure i could do that with a clear conscience.

CelticPromise Mon 15-Oct-12 23:09:13

In that situation your only professional duty its to the client and you are professionally obliged to act in their best interests. It couldn't possibly be in their best interests to answer questions admitting an offence when there isn't the evidence against them. You wouldn't last long as a defence solicitor giving advice like that!

I have no ethical problem with it at all. Professional ethics are different to personal ethics.

thebody Mon 15-Oct-12 23:17:23

Because we live in a democracy and in our country it's up to the prosecution to prove guilt.

Yes obviously some bastards slip through the net but that's not the fault of the defence barristers rather the fault of the prosecution, police, and forensics not proving a case.

I speak as a parent waiting for a case to come to court where my dd was badly injured. Not here though abroad so not sure how this translates.

amillionyears Tue 16-Oct-12 07:36:27

It sounds to me that being a defence lawyer can be somewhat of a dirty job that someone has to do. And that currently there is no viable alternative.
I do wonder if the defence lawyers,when 1 of their family is a witness to a crime,or is involved in a car accident that was not their fault, and the other person gets off on a technicality,its sounds like they would be ok about it because the prosecution were better than the defence.

Has the system ever hurt any of you personally?

lljkk Tue 16-Oct-12 07:39:37

I feel sorry for the lawyer "advising" Radovan Karadzic. If it were my job I would have to view it as an important court role for its technical value and just concentrate on procedures and steps of what to do. Because as a human being, RK is as scummy as they come.
Thing is, the conviction won't be sound without good legal advice and proper legal procedure, so we (humanity, justice) need a decent lawyer on RK's side.

wordfactory Tue 16-Oct-12 07:54:13

To me being a defence lawyer is no more a dirty job than being a copper or a prosecutor (who are both aware that oon some occasions innocent people are charged and convicted). You either believe in the rule of law or you don't. You either accept the rule of law as part and parcel of a civilized and intelligent society or you don't.

Spero Tue 16-Oct-12 09:20:44

amillionyears - it is almost as if you assume ALL defendants are guilty and anyone trying to defend them is complicit in their guilt?

Apologies if that is not what you think, but it is certainly how I read your post.

Most defendants are guilty but some are not. But that is really irrelevant - the point is - as many have said repeatedly - you either have a rule of law that applies to all, or you don't. And without the rule of law, presumably the only other option is gangs of people deciding to administer 'justice' to people they 'know' are guilty?

I know which society I prefer to live in.

It sounds to me that being a defence lawyer can be somewhat of a dirty job

You are forgetting the satisfaction of getting a truly innocent person off. Not all defendants are guilty and the ones who are innocent need defence lawyers too.

amillionyears Tue 16-Oct-12 10:25:58

Didnt know most defendants are guilty.

lljkk Tue 16-Oct-12 13:10:24

By the time a case reaches trial the odds are high that the defendant will be found guilty. It would be a waste of resources to get that case that far, otherwise. So the police & CPS understandably focus on cases that only have the best chances of conviction.

The reason the defendant is probably guilty at this point is because the defence lawyer is presumed competent and will contest the evidence as much as possible. The only way you can have faith in any conviction is by having good quality counsel available to the accused. If convictions are made on poorer quality evidence, then the odds increased that the real guilty person(s) will get away with it & commit the same crime again, or worse. I find that a horrifying prospect. I made this point aaaaaaaggges ago on this thread.

There are justice systems which don't start out with a presumption of innocence for the accused. That don't automatically offer good quality legal representation to suspects. They tend to be in countries with rather poor reputations.

Spero Tue 16-Oct-12 13:48:23

So amillionyears what do you think would be better than the current system of a presumption of innocence and robust defence lawyers?

Guilty if looks creepy? Guilty if your 'instinct' tells you? Guilty he if or she has precious convictions?

Don't really understand what your beef is, to be honest.

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