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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?

mustbetimetochange Tue 09-Oct-12 11:42:42

It would by me yes - if it meant 100 other guilty people were also not walking free - but thats because our family has been living in a different sort of prison - in a jail, prisoner in your own home - it's still prison for us while a rapist walks free.

And that is repeated over and over again.

higgle Tue 09-Oct-12 11:42:48

"The barrister lied - and I mean lied - about things that were a black and white matter of police record (I will never until my dying day understand how that happened)."

Barristers do not give evidence to the court, they call witnesses who give their version of events and summarise this at the end of the proceedings. Sometimes police records are not correct.

mustbetimetochange Tue 09-Oct-12 11:45:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mustbetimetochange Tue 09-Oct-12 11:46:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mustbetimetochange Tue 09-Oct-12 11:49:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KenLeeeeeee Tue 09-Oct-12 11:51:15

Everybody deserves a fair trial, and in order to ensure that wrongly accused people are not convicted on the basis of shaky evidence, there needs to be a robust defence system that examines every teeny tiny shred of evidence against a defendant. It follows that people who have committed whatever crime must be subjected to the same rigorous examination of all the evidence. We presume that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and that proof must be iron-clad in order to protect the innocent from false accusations.

mustbetimetochange Tue 09-Oct-12 11:52:01

And he didn't just say I was mistaken about a part of it - I made "the whole scenario up and I quote "so your mother lied to you then".

AngelaMerkel Tue 09-Oct-12 11:53:10

Maybe they think about the Birmingham six and Guildford 4 and don't go making stupid assumptions.

Maybe they also think that given that the people in charge make the laws, set the procedures up and collect the evidence that it is up to them to present things properly and truthfully.

The UK system is Adversarial, that means that Winning is more important than the truth. If we want the truth to be primary, then we would have tpo start again from scratch.

Spero Tue 09-Oct-12 11:54:41

Friend of mine defended a rapist once. The worst kind of evil predatory rapist. She said sitting with him to have a conference was a chilling, really unpleasant experience. I asked her how she could defend him.

Se said she wanted to give him the best defence possible so that when he was convicted, he would have no grounds for appeal.

And although in that case she was pretty clear in her own mind that he was guilty and he was convicted, no one has the right to decide a person's guilt before the evidence is heard and challenged in court. Otherwise, ask yourself what kind of society we would live in.

Jo Yeates landlord would have been locked up for 'looking creepy' for example.

I am glad to live in a country where if I am charged with a serious crime I will get a lawyer who will fight my case. Whether I am guilty or not.

mustbetimetochange Tue 09-Oct-12 12:01:18

I shouldn't have been so detailed - I'll have to report that when I get back from nursery run.

eurowitch Tue 09-Oct-12 12:09:22

"My child relayed the events of that night to the court and the barrister told him that it hadn't happened, that I was a liar and I had lied to my own son.

How is that anyone other than the barrister lying to the court."

As another poster said, the barrister cannot give evidence to the court. What he or she can do (and should do) is test the evidence of the witnesses. It sounds to me like this is what was happening here. He was testing your child's evidence. It might not have been pleasant to see, but I don't think many people would want a justice system in which someone can be convicted on the basis of evidence made up by someone else. So the barristers quite properly test it, to try to find holes and lies. If the evidence "passes the test" and stands up to scrutiny, then that will help to convict the accused.

suburbandweller Tue 09-Oct-12 12:09:33

mustbetimetochange it sounds as though you had an awful experience, and I sympathise. It's very difficult for anyone to comment on your situation without knowing all the facts. From what you have posted though, the barrister's questioning of your son sounds like standard cross-examination technique (putting different suggestions to the witness to try to discredit the accuracy of the evidence given). That's very different from lying to the court. It can be a very distressing experience for a witness but is an important part of any trial to ensure that the truth is drawn out.

DeWe Tue 09-Oct-12 12:10:46

The discussing is making me think about "To Kill a Mockingbird". In that Atticus is asked, threatened, and mocked for defending his client. I think the line "how can you defend people like that?" or similar is thrown at him.

His defendant was accused of rape.

However the situation was that people had made up their mind that he was guilty, simply because he was black, and the accuser was white. He clearly (from the book) hadn't done it, but people still were disgusted that Atticus would defend him.

That is why both sides need representation. People can make up their minds from newspapers/what people look like/what's previously happened and think it is clear cut that one must be guilty. If those people were not given representation then there would be no need for not-disputable evidence to be found, so the police would see no need to find it, because they would be condemmed as soon as seen, rightly or wrongly.

Not sure I've made my point very clear. Good thing I'm not a lawyer wink

mustbetimetochange Tue 09-Oct-12 12:24:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mustbetimetochange Tue 09-Oct-12 12:27:18

I guess thats all a long winded way of saying - I believe in fair trials - but they have to be fair from both sides and they aren't.

There is no doubt amongst the CJS and also victim support that the system is failing rape and abuse victims - what no-one has the ans to is how to fix it.

As a rule most parts of the system work - but our case is not unique.

amillionyears Tue 09-Oct-12 12:29:37

mustbetime,you may want to start your own thread.

mustbetimetochange Tue 09-Oct-12 12:40:27

What I should do is not get triggered by threads like this.

I am not going to let this - all barristers are fine upstanding honest people - and the system works just fine as it is view stand. I'm sure most are, some aren't just like everything else

Especially when that is not born out by conviction rates or govt publications.

lollilou Tue 09-Oct-12 12:55:59

mustbetimetochange I'm so sorry to hear of your experience and that this thread has upset you that was not my intention so my deepest apologies to you.
I have no hatred for anyone in the legal profession I just thought it would be an interesting subject to discuss.

StrawberryMojito Tue 09-Oct-12 13:10:24

The only defence solicitor I knew personally rather than professionally did hate his role in the Criminal Justice System, swapped sides and became a Police Officer.

I absolutely believe in a fair legal system and defence barristers/solicitors are obviously necessary to uphold this and the vast majority do come across as decent people. However, I personally couldn't represent the interests of someone I thought was guilty, it would make me very unhappy in my work.

Pinkforever Tue 09-Oct-12 13:15:55

My dh is a defence solicitor and he sleeps very well at night knowing that he is helping to ensure that there is fair legal representation in this country. Honestly some people want to stop reading tabloids and start educating themselves.....

Fishwife1949 Tue 09-Oct-12 13:23:32

My fil sleeps very well in his very large home i imagine

Every one deserves a good defence or would op prefer korea style justice if your arrested then your guilty

Fishwife1949 Tue 09-Oct-12 13:25:26

As we know from hillsbrough the police can lie trough there teeth so i am glad although i did ask father in law what happens if the person confess to you

What the frig are you supposed to do then

TheOneWithTheHair Tue 09-Oct-12 13:31:09

You have to try to persuade them to plead guilty in court. If they refuse you are not allowed to defend them and have to stand down. You are not allowed to defend someone as innocent who has confessed their guilt to you.

mustbetimetochange Tue 09-Oct-12 13:46:00

Dw OP - in order not to be triggered I'd have to live in a bubble - it's good that people discuss these things - the good and bad side

rollmeover Tue 09-Oct-12 13:55:04

As someone who was previously on the other side to defence solicitors, I have nothing but admiration for the vast majority of them. I think both sides in a criminal trial want the truth to come out and the evidence presented in the clearest and fairest light.

Remember just becuase someone tells their lawyer the killed someone they are not necesarily guilty of murder. It might be culpable homicide/manslaughter or they might have a defence of provocation or self defence or insanity. The lawyer is responsible for establishing the legal grounds for his/her clients position and advise accordingly. (though in this situation the lawyer wouldnt be allowed to pursue a line of defence that states the accused "didnt do it").

There were a couple of solicitors that I thought were idiots, but then there were a few on my side that were too.
I think lawyers get such an unfair bashing all the time because they cost money. If people had thought about what a doctor, surgeon, teacher or other highly trained professional might charge if they weren't getting the service for "free" they might have a better understanding. <<climbs off soapbox>>

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