This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

When The Lawyer Knows The Client Is Guilty

3044 words - 13 pages

When the Lawyer Knows the Client is Guilty:
Legal Ethics, and Popular Culture
Michael Asimow
March 2006
The question of what a criminal defense lawyer should do when the lawyer knows for certain that the client is guilty of the crime has bedeviled legal ethics for as long as that subject has existed. This talk is a shorter version of a paper Richard Weisberg will publish on the subject.
Let me start by recounting a couple of notorious trials in which a defense lawyer knew his client was guilty.
The first is the Courvoisier case, set in England in 1840, and described in detail in my colleague David Melinkoff’s 1973 book The Conscience of a Lawyer. A English nobleman, Lord William ...view middle of the document...

His 3-hour closing was extremely emotional and he managed to suggest that the other servants had something to do with the crime without actually saying so. The jury found Courvoisier guilty of murder, his appeal failed, and he was hanged.
Soon, an ethical scandal engulfed Phillips and it haunted him to his grave. Courvoisier had maintained his innocence until he saw Piolaine walk into the courtroom. He then confessed his guilt to Phillips, but insisted that Phillips continue to represent him.
Soon word of this got out. There was an immense outcry against Phillips in the press. Not only laymen but many (though not all) lawyers condemned him for his aggressive defense and his reputation never recovered.

Lest you think this is ancient history, the current story of San Diego lawyer Steven Feldman and client David Westerfield is sobering. Westerfield was charged with abducting and killing a little girl named Danielle Van Dam, but her body had not been found. During plea bargaining, the prosecutor offered not to seek the death penalty if Feldman would disclose the location of the body. Since Feldman had that information, he knew beyond any doubt that Westerfield was guilty.
Before a deal could be struck, the police found the body and the plea bargain collapsed. The case went to trial and Feldman conducted an all-out defense. In cross examining Danielle’s parents, Feldman brought out the fact that they had held sex parties in their home, suggesting that a guest at one of these parties might have killed the girl. Obviously, this was highly damaging to the parents’ reputation, yet Feldman knew the inference he was seeking to raise was false. Westerfield was convicted and is presently on death row.
The sequel to the trial mirrored Courvoisier: there was a tremendous outcry in the local press. Conservative TV commentator Bill O’Reilly ran numerous segments on Fox News and demanded Feldman’s disbarment. Feldman and his family were shunned. According to Feldman, the San Diego Bar Association’s phone answering machine said “if you want information about the San Diego Bar Association, press 1; if you want to complain about Steven Feldman, press 2.” In fact, Feldman’s actions fell within the accepted conventions for criminal defense and the storm blew over. But the public response to Feldman’s conduct bears an eerie resemblance to what happened to Charles Phillips 165 years ago.
b. Criminal defense of the client known to be guilty. How a lawyer who knows the client is guilty should conduct the defense is highly contested; meanwhile popular culture has its own unique perspective.
Obviously there’s an issue of epistemology here: does a lawyer ever really “know” the client is guilty? Richard and I will deal with this problem in our published paper but for present purposes let’s assume that the lawyer has complete certainty of the client’s guilt.
Here’s a frame that may be helpful in thinking about the lawyer’s dilemmas: strong vs. weak adversarialism....

Other Papers Like When the Lawyer Knows the Client Is Guilty

Banking And The Client Experience Essay

2389 words - 10 pages stated that customers reported wait times of 15 to 20 minutes after seeing the Representative to have their issues resolved or transactions completed. Clients’ needs met in regards to product and services Financial institutions must leverage exceptional client experience with need base conversations to differentiate themselves. As the channels used to access banking services increase, product knowledge is readily assessable. When the

Cadbury - Marketing - Feeling Guilty for the Wrong Reasons

1504 words - 7 pages Introduction Whilst most people love eating chocolate, they often feel a twinge of guilt for eating the fattening bar that was so delicious less than a minute before, however in New Zealand consumers have recently been feeling guilty for another reason. In 2009 it was discovered that Cadburys Chocolate have replaced Coco Butter with Palm Oil, a cheaper alternative that people claim has negative effects on the environment. Problems linked to the

The Effects of Longterm Auditor-Client Relationship on Audit Quality

2445 words - 10 pages years that the audit firm (auditor) has audited the client. Auditor independence: Neutrality or “independence of mind” is crucial for the exercise of professional judgment. Auditor independence refers to the independence of both the internal auditor and the external auditor. The concept requires the auditor to carry out his or her work freely and in an objective manner. It is quite possible that an auditor could be objective when auditing of a

Young and Old Waiters Attitudes Toward the Old Client

555 words - 3 pages and nothingness for them. So that, he likes to stay late at café to serve such clients because he knows that he may one day be just like the old man—unwanted, alone, and in despair. Ultimately, the old waiter is reluctant to close the café as much for the old clients’ sake as for his own because someday he’ll need someone to keep a café open late for him. This reflects his understanding on a deep level why he and the old client are both reluctant

The Guilty Conscience Of Lady Macbeth Vs. The Narrator Of “The Tell-Tale Heart”

1555 words - 7 pages about feeling guilt and she no longer wants to be in the dark. In the play when murders happen it is always a dark stormy night, this is to set the mood of it being dark and scary. (Enter Lady Macbeth with a taper) DOCTOR. How came she by that light? GENTLEWOMEN. Why, it stood by her. She has light by her con- / tinually, tis’ her command. (5.1.133). Lady Macbeth doesn’t want to be in the dark anymore so she

What Is the Most Important Factor That Influences Customer's Satisfaction When Buying Online

1814 words - 8 pages What is the most important factor that influences customer’s satisfaction when buying online? Over the past two decades, the rapid growth of the internet becomes a platform for buyer-seller interaction, constituting a well-practiced system. With the emergence of e-commerce there has been a significant increase in online transactions. Online shopping could be defined as the concept of buying and selling of goods over the internet. From the

The Thinks Guide to God. (This Is Rubbish I Did It When I Was 15)

1026 words - 5 pages bread being worshiped by millions of people across the globe. And the fact the y mocked people when “their understanding is limited, not the concept of God. I enjoyed that the book asked you questions it asks you as you read through it gets you mind wondering. When I reach the chapter ‘life after death’ I looked forward to what I was about to read as I know a lot of different views and I have my own, and I always like leaning other peoples

Tommorrow When the War Began

930 words - 4 pages to a whole new playing field as their sense of security is constantly being second guessed with their lives put to a new and unfamiliar dimension of terror, uncertainty and sheer desperation. John Marsden wrote Tomorrow When the War Began to convey the message that war should not be practised and how war can drastically change the lives of innocent beings.   Ellie and her friends are proven to change when they believed they were safe and

When the King Took Flight

714 words - 3 pages When The King Took Flight There are many events that happened in history that makes the world how it is today. Many people don’t realize that society has changed dramatically from the 17th century to now. In those days they dealt with a different type of government system, (monarchy) in which the king is in control of the government. Some kings are great in which they run their country well and have the respect of those around them and

How Does Amir's Actions Lead to Him Feeling Guilty for the Rest of His Life- the Kite Runner

720 words - 3 pages “The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.” – Victor Hugo. In the novel, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, Khaled effectively portrays guilt as being destructive to oneself and affecting others around it. The violence that the main character, Amir, experiences leads to him feeling guilty for rest of his life, which breaks up the relationships that he once had in his previous years. Amir’s guilt turns

Dd101 Tma06 Evalulate the Claim That When Talking of British Culture, It Is Better to Talk of Cultures

1270 words - 6 pages Dean Hancock C368528x Evaluate the claim that when talking about British culture, it is better to talk of cultures British culture. Seen by some to have a deep rooted historical sense of practices and beliefs from within the British Isles, and by others more globally infused and diverse than anywhere on the Earth. When talking of British culture it can evoke

Related Essays

My Nana, The Lawyer Essay

5579 words - 23 pages man and he may live in a posh colony like Civil Lines but he is the same Chaudhry Muhammad Bashir who used to solve problems on the ground with a stick. Added to that, there has always been someone watching over him, protecting him one time and helping him the other. The snake who stood as a guard while he slept, the tongalwala who stopped when no other tonga was and the fact that he became a lawyer when nothing seemed to be in his favor, are all

The Client Paper

1115 words - 5 pages the needs created by some social change, and can influence environmental needs. As also several different social skills used when working with the client. Different strategies to help customers and provide better support and customer support so that problems can be solved best used. When problems occur, we realize that something is wrong and realize that this causes inconvenience to the customer. (Woodside, 2011) Human service professionals

Abortion: When Is The Beginning Of Personhood?

2530 words - 11 pages When is the Beginning of Personhood? During the past quarter century, abortion has joined race and war as one of the most contentious subjects of controversy in the United States. It discusses human interaction where ethics, emotions, and law collaborate. Many have contemplated upon the meaning of abortion. One argument is that every child born should be wanted. The people in lieu of this theory are often referred to as Pro-choice activists

When The Mind Is A Wonderland

815 words - 4 pages remembranceof things past, fear of what negative thing is to come this year etc..etc.. The last Sunday in October was when Loren Rebecca shot herself – of course, that’s been years ago, I was 15, but yeah, still--the weather that makes me think of that day, or sound of a low flying helicopter, then bam, the image of my best friend dead– images of ½ her face blown off and blood everywhere, image of horror on her grandparents face, me just standing back