Should a Lawyer Defend Someone Who Is Guilty?
A lawyer who would represent a murderer is a rat.
This may not be a Q1 violation if you believe that lawyers are only in the right when they represent people who they believe are innocent.
If you would want legal representation even if you could not convince a lawyer that you are innocent, then this is a Q2 violation.
This statement may be rooted in the belief that a lawyer’s job is to get a judge or jury to find their client innocent. If this belief is true, then a lawyer who is attempting to help a guilty person get away with a crime might indeed be seen as immoral, even if they are just doing their job.
However, couldn’t a lawyer assist a client known to be guilty without trying to avert justice? For example, which of the following (if any) could a lawyer with a client that is clearly guilty do without behaving immorally?
- Try to ensure that the jury is unbiased.
- Try to ensure that the jury is biased in the defendant’s favor.
- Argue against a sentence that is too harsh considering the crime.
- Attempt to arrange a situation in which a mistrial can be declared if it appears that the defendant is going to lose.
- Present evidence that the guilty party needs psychological assistance instead of prison.
- Argue that some evidence was illegally gathered by police and therefore should not be admissible in court.
- Ensure that the prosecution’s case stays within the law.
- Ask for leniency if there are extenuating circumstances.
- Make sure that the defendant is presentable in court so that a judge or jury will not be biased by poor appearance or behavior.
- Make sure that the defendant is well groomed and dressed so that witnesses might not be able to identify him.
- Represent the defendant as a court-appointed attorney.
- Represent the defendant because it’s a high-profile case and a win would be good for the law firm.
- Represent the defendant to help ensure a conviction.
You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.