Justice is a funny thing

Most people come to a lawyer claiming that they want justice.  Do they?  They want to win their case.  They want to beat the rap.  But winning often has little to do with justice.  And that’s okay.  As a criminal defense lawyer, it’s my responsibility to represent you, not justice.  This point is lost on many clients.  More often than not, new potential clients will come to me with a story about their innocence.  Perhaps they are indeed innocent (it does happen), but perhaps they are not.  Or perhaps they are not as guilty as the police say, but not quite innocent either.

What a new client needs to appreciate is that I do not care whether they are innocent or not.  It has no impact whatsoever on my efforts on their behalf, even though they may find that hard to believe.  For the purpose of representing a client, I assume that everyone is guilty in order to remove that taint they feel and enable them to speak freely to me about what happened.  This is by far the most important thing they can do to aid me in preparing their defense.  As I frequently tell clients, I don’t want to be the only person in the room who has no clue what really happened.  If a client lies to me to minimize their guilt, they have taken away my most valuable weapon on their behalf:  knowledge.

I’m always straight with my clients.  As some will happily tell you, there are times when they would appreciate a little more sugar-coating and a little less honesty, though in the end they truly appreciate the fact that their decisions are based on a real appraisal of the situation rather than the old “don’t worry” approach, until (of course) it’s too late.  In return, I expect them to be straight with me.  It’s not much to ask, and ultimately empowers me to deal with the real situation rather than some pretend set of circumstances that helps neither you nor me.

7 comments on “Justice is a funny thing

  1. Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer

    Listening to the Client, Telling the Story, and Homework

    In the context of criminal plea negotiations, one of the defense lawyer’s jobs is to tell the client’s story to the prosecutor in way that distinguishes him from everyone else that comes through that courtroom charged with [assault, theft, possession,…

  2. Paul B. Kennedy

    I shudder anytime a client walks in and tells me they want to prove their innocence. That’s when I have to sit them down and explain what’s really going on here.

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