Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How Can You Represent A "Guilty" Person?

You might wonder if the transition from career federal prosecutor to criminal defense lawyer was difficult for me! I am often asked, "How could you represent someone you know is guilty?"
Well, the transition from prosecutor to defense lawyer was actually an easy one for me! You see, I have learned, over the years, that our criminal justice system, as an adversary system, is sort of like a tug of war. In other words, to work properly, our Constitution and court system require good, strong advocates, both prosecutors and defense attorneys, who are both pulling hard on their respective ends of the rope. It is in this struggle that, in theory, the truth emerges.
I have also learned that, sometimes, a defense lawyer isn't merely trying to "get someone off on a technicality." Each case is different. Often, the defense attorney is simply trying to get a fair result, or sentence, for someone who has admittedly made a mistake and accepts responsibility for their crime.
I have also learned that, sometimes, the police overcharge defendants and that, sometimes, overly zealous police or prosecutors are overly aggressive in the pursuit of "justice." For example, while a defendant may have committed one burglary, the police department may want to "clear the decks" by dumping all their unsolved burglaries on the one hapless defendant. Our Constitution therefore depends upon strong defense advocates who will aggressively fight against such injustices and make the government prove its case, and do so properly. Sadly, over the years, as a former prosecutor, I have seen defendants' rights stepped on, over and over again, by both police and prosecutors. That's the real world, folks!
I have also seen, especially in white collar crime cases, that sometimes the defendant is only technically guilty because of a maze of ambiguous government rules and regulations. Just as defendants shouldn't "get off on a technicality," they likewise need a good, experienced defense attorney to make sure they don't "get convicted on a technicality" either!
And I have also seen that even the fiercest law and order advocates always want a good defense attorney when it's their own loved one who is in trouble!
Finally, if you ask me how I can defend a "criminal," I will respond that I have also learned that, sometimes, the government makes mistakes! More simply put, as a wise old judge once told me, "Richard, sometimes people are, in fact, innocent!"
So, don't you see, I have no problem at all in representing a so-called "guilty" person! Our Constitution and our adversary system depend upon it. For each of these reasons, our family of defense attorneys at The Goolsby Law Firm will continue to fight the good fight and we'll just keep on tugging on our end of the rope!
What do you think? Does our adversary system work? And how about you, could you represent a person accused of a heinous crime?!

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