The Truth About Lawyers Essay, Research Paper
The Truth About Lawyers
Society often looks down upon lawyers. This is because lawyers have a long past of not being the most honest people. A lot of attorneys use many deceptive practices when they are presenting a case in court. A lawyer will need to do this when they are defending a criminal who is either thought or known to be guilty of a crime. Lawyers will sometimes, but not usually, lie to help their client. Many more will present a ‘false defense’ to defend their client. “…A false defense is an attempt to ‘convince the judge or jury that facts established by the state and known to the attorney to be true are not true, or that the facts known to the attorney to be false or true’”(Mitchell 18). Although many people think attorneys should do whatever it takes to defend their client, lawyers should be prohibited from presenting a false case.
Citizens of the United States are innocent until proven guilty. Every person charged with a crime will need a trial to find whether they are innocent or guilty. They are also given the right to have a lawyer whether or not they can afford it. The lawyers we assign to the cases have to defend their client whether the person is innocent or not (Subin 5). If a lawyer knows his client is guilty but his client chooses to plead not guilty, the lawyer must do what the client requests. “…The lawyer is not to consider whether the client’s cause is right or wrong . . . ” (Katsh 2). This helps people to receive the trial the Constitution promises them. “A false defense may be necessary to preserve the rigorous process by which guilt is determined” because, if a false defense was not used, some people would never get a trial because no lawyers would defend them (Subin 13). These are the reasons that attorneys may need to use a false defense.
However, a lawyer can present a case so well that a criminal will be released into society. When the lawyer knows his client is guilty but still allows him to plead innocent and defends him and wins, he is putting danger back on the streets. “…There is something more important than discovering truth in every case” (Katsh 3). This may sound bad but it means that in every case, the purpose is to convict the guilty party; not to find out whether every single little fact is entirely true. Furthermore, “…the position of a ‘defense attorney’ does not automatically provide someone with a free pass to moral irresponsibility toward the rest of the community” (Lerner). They have the responsibility to punish the people who are guilty of a crime, rather than working their hardest to get a criminal back on the streets. A criminal who is let free will most likely commit that crime again or even try to commit other dangerous crimes. Since they got away with one crime, they have the mind set that they could get away with it again. These are reasons that lawyers should not be allowed to present false cases.
On the other hand, everyone is guaranteed a fair trial. In order for a person to have a fair trial, they must have a defense attorney. Since “the adversary system requires that the lawyer’s main responsibility be to the client,” the lawyer must use all available means to prove what his client tells him to (Katsh 2). This may mean the lawyer will have to “mislead opponents” and it is “permissible… to do anything short of lying” (Katsh 2). People have said, “…it is proper to destroy a truthful government witness when essential to provide the defendant with a defense…” (Subin 4). Which means that it may be necessary to the outcome of the trial to do these dishonest acts.
Lawyers will often use a technicality to allow their client to go free. As one author states, “…legal accuity and subtlety may find an interpretation of the rule which excludes its application in the very case before the court” (Cohn 102). This means that the lawyer will find a way for a particular rule to be twisted another way, so that it appears as if it does not pertain to the case in question. Another example is that “with the help of subtle textual or legal distinctions, certain conjuring tricks can be performed…” (Cohn 102). Many people believe, however, that “…greater responsibility should be placed on lawyers not to pervert the truth to help their clients” (Katsh 2). There are other ways for a lawyer to assist their client, rather than being deceitful. For instance, “it would be appropriate for the attorney to argue to the jury that the available evidence is not sufficient to sustain the burden of proof” (Subin 14). These are why lawyers should be prevented from presenting fraudulent defenses.
The ability to present false defenses is necessary for preventing people from getting lost in the legal system. Many times, a person is prevented from getting a trial because no attorney’s will defend him. There is a need for attorney’s to present false cases because, “…it is essential that there be independent defense attorneys to provide protection against government oppression” (Katsh 2). Another author agrees when he says, “the false defense may be necessary to preserve the individual’s access to the legal system” (Subin 12). Here is the reason for having the rights to a fair trial and to an attorney, “if there were no such right, the guilty defendant would effectively be deprived of a defense” (Subin 11). These are a few legitimate reasons that false defenses should not be banned.
Taxpayers pay a tremendous expense due to false cases. False cases usually drag out a long time before they are settled and may even go to court more than once. Taxpayers have to pay for things every time a case goes to court. One novelist agrees when he writes, “…the state has assumed many of the costs of enforcement. Public taxes pay for police, detectives, juries, and prisons” (Friedman 133). This same author says that , “the Public pays for the judge’s salary and courtroom overhead…” (Friedman 133). No one likes to pay taxes, especially if it’s going to go towards letting a criminal go free to roam the streets. These are more reasons that lawyers should be forbidden from presenting false litigations.
It is against the code of ethics to lie. Even though “some have argued that a criminal defendant has a right to commit perjury…the notion of a right to commit perjury has been forcefully rejected by the courts and by the organized bar…” (Subin 12). Perjury, by the way, is “the crime of willfully giving false evidence on oath” (Macdonald 358). It says in its own definition that it is a crime, so the idea that it is alright is absurd. Another writer also comments that, “deliberate vagueness is quite common in law” (Friedman 264). These things should not be allowed in the United States legal system. After all, “the defendant is not entitled to gain an acquittal by any available means” (Subin 12). One author says it best when he declares, “these transgressions not only diminish the public’s confidence in the profession, but they also subtly undermine the public’s respect for the rule of law” (Burger 58).
Lastly, the purpose of our legal system is to convict the guilty and allow the innocent to go free. This is shown when Subin says, “law enforcement officers have the obligation to convict the guilty and to make sure they do not convict the innocent” (Subin 5). This idea is also reinforced when another author writes, “…the principle goal of the criminal justice system is ‘truth’… it is contrary to the goal of ‘truth’ to permit a criminal defense attorney to put on a ‘false defense’” (Mitchell 18). It just doesn’t make sense that people could believe that a “…defense counsel has no comparable obligation to ascertain or present the truth” (Subin 5). This is why an attorney should not be authorized to present a fabricated case.
In conclusion, allowing lawyers to present a false case in court is a bad idea. Even though many people think it is necessary and there is nothing wrong with it, there are too many illustrations that point out that it is inappropriate to tolerate these proceedings. The author, Harry Subin, says it the best when he says, “I argue that neither the right to a defense nor the needs of the adversary system justify the presentation of a false defense” (Subin 5).
Burger, Warren E. “The ABA Has Fallen Down on the Job.” The Wall Street Journal. 10 August 1994. Rpt. in Ethics. Leone, Bruno and others, eds. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1995.
Cohn, Georg. Existentialism and Legal Science. New York: Oceana Publications, Inc., 1967.
Friedman, Lawrence M. The Legal System: A Social Science Perspective. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1975.
Katsh, M. Ethan, ed. Taking Sides: Legal Issues. Guilford, Connecticut: The Dushkin Publishing Group, Inc., 1995.
Lerner, Michael and others. “The Moral Obligation of Defense Lawyers.” Tikkun. July/Aug. 1997: 7-10. SIRS Knowledge Source. Internet. 31. Oct. 2000. Available http://sks.sirs.com/cgi-bin/hst-cl929-s11492wrdtype=ART&artno=017244.
Macdonald, A. M., ed. Webster’s Dictionary: New Edition. New York: Pyramid Communications, Inc., 1972.
Mitchell, John B. “Reasonable Doubts Are Where You Find Them: A Response to Professor Subin’s Position on the Criminal Lawyer’s ‘Different Mission.’” Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics. Vol. 1. 1987. Rpt. in Taking Sides: Legal Issues. Ed. M. Ethan Katsh. Guilford, Connecticut:The Dushkin Publishing Group, Inc., 1995.
Subin, Harry I. “The Criminal Lawyer’s ‘Different Mission’ Reflections on the ‘Right’ to Present a False Case,” Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics. Vol. 30. 1987. Rpt. in Taking Sides: Legal Issues. Ed. M. Ethan Katsh. Guilford, Connecticut: The Dushkin Publishing Group, Inc.,1995.