breaking all your laws, one at a time. (aefallen) wrote,
breaking all your laws, one at a time.

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Law Talk: Defending Guilty People Isn't Easy

Law Talk
In summary: Defending Guilty People Isn't Easy, or, Why Life Is Not Like Phoenix Wright;

A Funny Thing I Found in Spam

I get spam for replica watches all the time, but this is new! *sparkles!* The problem is, throwing them all in jail only makes the prosecution happy, and it doesn't solve any problems in the long run. Also!

Why Defending Guilty People Isn't Easy

1. First, let's get the "moral reasons" out of the way. The most noise I've heard for the whole Why We Don't Like Lawyers debate (oh, trust me, I've heard most of the arguments, and mostly from my family) comes from, in descending order, You're all slimy creatures (the sibling), then, You defend guilty people. It's the second one I have the most problems with.

To be true, it probably comes from the fact that when I was young and impressionable and didn't know I was going to go to law school yet, I read an article I remember to this day, entitled Why I Defend Guilty People, written by a lawyer far more eminent and practiced than I am, and the main reason behind it was, Because sometimes they're innocent. And sometimes they are. The problem is proving it, really, because the criminal justice system is so weighted against the offender, and while I understand why it should be that way: the system's there to protect the innocent, but it doesn't mean that due process should get thrown out of the window. I honestly do believe that people are innocent until they're proven guilty, although that may not be the way things seem to get done sometimes, and in practice the principle really is more along the lines of Guilty Until Proven Innocent, but still.

The point is, everyone is entitled to legal representation (and I'm not making a point for lawyers here for the money, because most of the public defenders don't take any money from the people they're defending, they're paid by the state because a lot of people who need it the most can't pay for legal representation, and the system has got to recognise that fact). And even though in this country it's been decided that while an accused has a right to legal representation, he doesn't have a right to be told that he has a right to legal representation (we don't read the Miranda here, guys, different jurisdiction), they're still entitled to legal representation. Everyone who comes before the court should be entitled to have someone who knows the law to speak their case for them, someone who knows the system, someone who can represent them and their interests, because the judicial system was made to be formal and this is scary to people who are already scared and thrown into a system they never wanted to be in trouble with. I'm not saying that they're not guilty, but that even if they are guilty, they should have someone to look out for them, to make sure their case is being handled right. Even if a lawyer can't prove a client innocent, legal representation can make a difference in sentencing, and maybe it doesn't seem so to the outside world, but even one month less in prison means something to the defendant.

I don't know if I'd have thought this way before starting work, but I do now. I don't know if it's the effect of coming into courtrooms where they leave the doors to the room where the prisoners wait to come to trial open, so that the prisoners can look out and wave to their family and friends in the galley. This sounds incredibly cruel, perhaps, but I'd never seen prisoners up close before, I'd never seen people handcuffed in courtrooms before, and maybe it is because I am still young, but I couldn't help feeling for them. I know that a fair number of them (if not all of those I saw) were probably guilty, and that the handcuffs and the security, it's all there for a reason, and it's so that the people in the courtroom can do their business safely and without fearing assault. Still. Putting a human face on a defendant changes your perspective on what's going to happen to him and his family when he goes behind bars. I know I only think this way because I'm still young and the walls of informed impartiality aren't all the way up just yet, and also because I haven't been in practice long enough to get jaded. But for the moment, I still think this way.

2. And before I went off on that tangent, there are PRACTICAL REASONS why defendin guilty people isn't easy.

I'd say that when it comes to defending guilty people, it's not morality that's the biggest of your problems. If you don't take the case, someone else is going to have to take it, and if it's a case that's come to your firm: Too damn bad, someone is going to have to take it. And as junior lawyers, it's fairly likely that you'll get it, because, ONE, You need the experience - and while this can serve as a catch-all phrase for, TWO, So we can give you the work we don't want to do, it is also true that you need all the experience you can get, even if it is only to decide that it is an experience you'd rather not get at the end of it all.

The problem with people who are genuinely guilty is: they're not going to present like innocent people. The evidence is not going to help you get them off. (and not like that) You will be looking at absolutely overwhelming evidence screaming THIS GUY IS SO GUILTY, and it is so damn hard to put that aside and say I'm gonna do the best job I can. I say it's hard because it's not easy to give your all to something you don't believe in. And it's so easy for people to say Then just don't take the case. It is and it isn't that simple. Because if you don't do it - who else will? I'm not Atticus Finch, and I'm not going to pretend I am, and I don't think it was any easier on him, either, but still - it's not easy.

But sometimes, they aren't guilty. Sometimes the evidence seems to point all one way, but your guy is innocent. And while I must admit I am not a believer of the "Better ten guilty men go free than one innocent be wrongly convicted" philosophy, I have this (and probably most people do) absolute prohibition and complete sense of wrong about convicting an innocent person, even and especially when someone has to take the blame.

I'm not yet sure if time will give me the profound distaste for the practice of criminal litigation which Atticus Finch had, but even now, I can see how people get there.


And now for something completely different: I am not an Arashi fan, but my heavens, they make FUN icon material! (This reminds me, I still haven't done a proper Abyss icon post) This icon post is especially in honour for farfello, who was the FIRST to introduce me to Arashi videos. I don't yet know of this is going to be a wild-and-crazy fall-in-love obsession the way Abyss or even Blades of Glory was, but I do know that I can't stop making Arashi icons (they do the most priceless photoshoots ever), and I love their videos, whether they are dancing in top hats and tailcoats atop a subtle-as-a-jackhammer rainbow, making tempura out of marshmallows, strawberries and strawberry cake.

And actually, if anyone can and doesn't mind identifying who's turning up in the Arashi icons, I would greatly apprciate the help. ♥ Kaasan helped for these ♥ I have now, so I know those already.



Also, anyasy linked this amazing Balthier and Basch cosplay, as well as this Balthier and Fran cosplay. An amazingly good Fran, really, I can't believe anyone could have pulled off making all that armor and that costume quite as well as this cosplayer did. I'm just really pleased at the Balthier and Basch. Many thanks for the links! ♥
Tags: arashi, ffxii, law, the legal profession

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