Jump to content

Any lawyers?
*fluff* question

  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 ~mimo~

Posted 30 November 2012 - 06:41 PM

How do you represent people (in court) when you KNOW the person is guilty and/or it goes against your morals? unsure.gif

#2 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 30 November 2012 - 06:46 PM

Well if you KNOW they are guilty then you can't represent them very effectively, you can't adduce any evidence that is inconsistent with their admission (to you) of their guilt....so effectively you don't give them a defence. Or you tell them to plead guilty and try to get a reduced sentence.

#3 Guest_CaptainOblivious_*

Posted 30 November 2012 - 06:47 PM

I used to refer them off to other lawyers if it was something that was morally reprehensible to me and I was convinced they were guilty. It's ok to do that if you are doubtful of whether you can represent them well enough.

#4 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 30 November 2012 - 07:12 PM

There are a few answers to this:

The official one is that we trust the system.   The police and the prosecutors are there to do their (ethical) best to prove your client's guilt, the judge and jury are there to make the right decision, the defence lawyer is there to defend their client, and the rules of evidence are there to make it fair.   If everyone does their job right then it should all balance out.  

But we have heaps of rules.  Legally you can't lie to the court so you can't actually deny they did it if you KNOW they are guilty - that is they have told you they did it.   In civil trials you can't run a defence if you don't believe it has a reasonable prospect of success.

But the reality is that its such a rare situation that IME most lawyers won't encounter it.

Most of us do other types of work, and people who do criminal work are more often concerned with sentencing issues (like mental health, drugs, family responsibilities, rehabilitation programmes etc).  

I acted for a corporate client who most people would nominate as the epitome of evil, and I never was put in a position of doing anything to deny their guilt/responsibility.

Edited by meggs1, 30 November 2012 - 07:13 PM.

#5 Feral*Spikey*

Posted 30 November 2012 - 07:34 PM

There are a whole heap of rules.

First up, all lawyers are officers of the court, and the court is paramount - so no lying to the court.

Second, you have duties to your client. Everything they tell you is privileged, so you cannot tell the court (or anyone else for that matter) that they are guilty. However, they are not able to direct you to run a case that is inconsistent with their guilt. That leaves you with ensuring that the prosecution have done their job correctly, and observed the legal niceties - like ensuring the elements of the crime are proven, evidence is all admissable, and that kind of thing.

Basically, its your job to ensure the other side do their job correctly. Of course, many clients don't understand that you cannot act contrary to their admissions, so in the end you advise the court you cannot continue to represent them, and they get another lawyer.

One of the really important part of our legal system is making sure that the law is impartial and 'just' as fair as possible. That means we all have a duty to ensure that convictions on criminal charges are above board, and as sound as possible. Some people feel really passionately about the system, and everyone's right to have a fair trial and the best representation - and that's why they represent people charged with crimes.

I personally cannot think of anything worse than a legal system that hangs 'criminals' out to dry. It leads to sloppy policing and investigation, and really BIG mistakes. Eventually, that would trickle into other parts of the legal system, and that would be a terrible thing for those who are on the receiving end of an accusation.

#6 ~mimo~

Posted 01 December 2012 - 08:42 AM

Thanks for explaining!

Btw I'm just curious. Random thought that popped in my head.

#7 princessanarchy

Posted 01 December 2012 - 08:51 AM

I HATE these questions. Go watch LA Law and feel better about life. Grr.
#sorry - cranky

#8 Froger

Posted 01 December 2012 - 09:20 AM

OP, I have included a link to an excellent article about the matter. It clearly outlines the "cab rank" rule, which the general public seem to have no idea about, and also the way lawyers contribute to upholding the rule of law, and why they are duty bound to still represent the unpopular.

Several lawyers made the point that when lawyers fail to stand between the most undesirable clients and the power of the state the entire system is at risk. As one public defender said: ‘We can’t import into the system a subjective value judgement about which case is more worthy than another, who is more deserving. If this happens, the system — and our entire society, really — cannot be said to represent justice.’[69]

Another leading barrister said: ‘It is simply essential to the system that everyone, no matter how unpopular, gets a defence.’[70]

Many lawyers who represent unpopular clients believe that the very legitimacy of the legal system is reflected in how it treats the worst. As one prominent barrister stated:

The quality of the system is tested by how it treats the worst. … The worst, most revolting criminal or terrorist or whoever it happens to be, if you can get a fair trial for them then everyone else is guaranteed a good run. But if the system starts taking short cuts because somebody is so bad, then it’s the system that’s coming apart.[71]

A legal aid lawyer who has also been in the private Bar[76] made the same point, but with self-deprecating humour:

Why represent clients that others loath? Sometimes I think it comes from my deeply indecisive nature. I don’t know whether someone is guilty or not. In 99 per cent of cases they say they are not guilty. As a lawyer, I say okay, that’s the system; you’re entitled to put this case. It’s all the more important when you have a deeply unpopular client. It’s more important to get the jury to put aside their prejudices. We don’t know things. That’s why we have a system designed not to find out the truth but to find out whether the Crown has proved its case.[77]
Another prominent lawyer made a similar point about lawyers ‘knowing’ that their clients are guilty:

People say you know. But everyone who has done any amount of trial work has had the mortifying experience of thinking you know what’s true and you find out that what the client has told you is true, and you were bloody wrong about your assumed knowledge of his guilt. … [This experience] makes it easier to suspend judgment. We have a system. The jury decides. I don’t.[78]
One criminal defence lawyer agreed, noting that ‘first impressions can be totally wrong.’[79]

He told a story about a client who had been accused of rape. With a wry warm-heartedness common to criminal lawyers, he described his client as an ‘idiot’ who ‘looked like a rapist’ with his ‘big bulging eyes’ and who acted like one with his ‘secretive’ and ‘strange’ manner. The complainant, on the other hand, was ‘compelling.’ When she testified at the committal hearing, she was ‘brave and snivelling’ as she offered up the awful details of the crime. She was later exposed as a liar by a purportedly corroborating witness — her soon-to-be former boyfriend. The complainant’s plan had been to extort money from the accused, but the boyfriend began to fear that he would be accused next.[80]


I highly recommend this interesting article on austlii, for understanding the basics.

And here is a short smh article about one aspect of the subject.


Edited by SarahM72, 01 December 2012 - 09:28 AM.

#9 chat

Posted 01 December 2012 - 12:15 PM

As someone suggested, the court is paramount and a lawyer is an officer of the court.  Everyone has the right to a fair trial though and I believe Barristers have to take on jobs unless they clash with other work which is why people like Martin Bryant will always be represented in one way or another.  It takes a special kind of person to work in criminal law day in and day out.

1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users


Newborn baby found in a nativity scene

Police are trying to trace a woman who abandoned a baby boy in the manger of a church nativity scene.

Life would be harder without my kids

The Humans of New York Facebook page is well known for sharing touching, real stories from one of the world's biggest cities – and it's just hit the heart of parents everywhere.

Mum dresses as Wonder Woman for last day of chemo

A Brisbane mum dressed up as a superhero to celebrate the end of her chemotherapy and created a moment her family will remember forever.

How a raisin can predict a toddler's IQ

All you need to assess a child's future intelligence is a plastic cup and a raisin, according to new research.

Former Hi-5 member's cannabis hope

Former Hi-5 star Tim Harding hopes a cannabis-derived drug will help control his daughter's epilepsy, which sees the four-year-old suffering between 50 and 100 seizures a day.

The top 5 reasons your toddler throws a tantrum

Whilst to the outside world little people may appear to have it easy, it's actually not always the case – just ask any toddler who's had their toast cut up the wrong way.

Glenn McGrath thought he'd lost his wife and baby

Australian cricket ledged Glen McGrath has spoken about the moment he thought he might lose his wife, Sara and their baby daughter, Madison.


Inside my Centrelink nightmare

Mother Bec Smith has been trying for months to access Centrelink payments. A "serious error" is preventing her.

Warnings over push for hourly childcare billing

Australia's peak childcare body has called for caution around the Turnbull government's push for childcare centres to charge parents by the hour, not by the day.

Cate Blanchett thought about adopting for years

Cate Blanchett says her recent adoption of a baby girl had nothing to do with wanting a daughter after having three sons.

Kate Walsh: 'I can't have kids'

Grey's Anatomy star Kate Walsh has revealed she is unable to have children because she has experienced early menopause.

The parasite that could boost fertility

The Tsimane women of Bolivia are often revered as among the most fertile in the world - on average having 10 children in their lifetimes -- but some are even more fertile than others.

Family may sue cousin over genetics

A Melbourne couple is suing the Royal Children's Hospital for failing to diagnose a genetic disorder in their first child - an error they allege caused them to have another child with severe disabilities.

Strange things mums have done in labour

While most women in labour focus on the upcoming birth of their baby, some women do more interesting things.

Michael Clarke reveals baby's name

When Michael Clarke said he was wrapped around the finger of his little princess, he wasn't joking.

The logistics of breastfeeding twins

Our life is more or less divided into neat four hour parcels of time and it's hard to get much of anything done in the time between feeds.

How to stop people ruining Christmas

We can make a conscious effort about how we react to those curly Christmas day scenarios that can send us up the wall, or should we say chimney.

Lots of formula offers for desperate mum

The mum who was down to her last three tins of baby formula said she had received hundreds of calls and offers to send her formula.

Surviving breast cancer while pregnant

It was last thing Rebecca O'Donnell expected at 30 weeks' pregnant. One morning, while putting on her bra, she felt a pea-sized lump in her right breast.

Cot sheet brands for the nursery

With so many awesome cot sheet options these days, we thought we'd put together a list of go-to brands for you to seek out for your baby's bed.


What's hot on EB

How I survived breast cancer while pregnant

It was last thing Rebecca O'Donnell expected at 30 weeks' pregnant. One morning, while putting on her bra, she felt a pea-sized lump in her right breast.

Grieving father's letter to Bataclan terrorists: "...this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free"

A grieving father whose wife was killed in the attacks on the Bataclan Theatre last weekend has written an open letter to her killers.

5 challenges of motherhood - and how to see them differently

Despite the smiles, the sloppy kisses and the pure magic children bring to our lives, it's hard to deny that motherhood can be tough.

4 challenges of being a new dad - and how to face them

Becoming a parent is challenging – and that applies to both mums and dads.

My battle against antenatal and postnatal depression

I was five months pregnant when I realised I needed help.

Children swapped at birth will not be returned to biological parents

A boy and girl accidentally swapped on the day they were born will stay with the families who have raised them, a South African court has ruled.

A quarter of men believe they get 'man periods'

A British study has revealed one in four men believe they have a monthly cycle.

Baby deposit

How much do you need to save for a 'baby deposit'?

It's fairly straightforward to calculate a house deposit, but how much money do you need to save up for a baby?

Dad's beautiful note to his wife, a nurse

To anyone else it might just look like a picture of a mum having a nap with her toddler.

'I was a complete schmuck': Mike Baird opens up about his wife's postnatal depression

When his wife Kerryn was not well following the birth of their daughter, NSW Premier Mike Baird buried himself in his work.

Mum's desperate plea as whooping cough alert issued

A desperate mother has shared a heart-breaking video of her baby struggling to cope with a coughing fit caused by pertussis.

Coffee could help you live longer

New US research found people who report drinking three to five cups of coffee a day are less likely to die prematurely from heart disease, suicide, diabetes or Parkinson's disease.

The joy and dread of playdates

To live vicariously through your child is to rediscover anxieties you thought dead and buried.

Sick baby could die without scarce special formula, mum says

Lizzie Cann is down to her last three tins of a special formula in short supply.

Adorable toddler's strop foiled by squeaky shoes

We're probably all familiar with the pouty bottom lip and tightly crossed arms of a tot mid-strop.

More sex during World Cup created more baby boys

More sex during South Africa's World Cup meant a disproportionately high number of boys were born nine months later, a new study has found.

Win one of two ABC Shop prize packs in time for Christmas

What a boon it would be to have your toddler's Christmas gifts covered this year. We have two awesome ABC Shop prize packs to give away to two lucky winners.

Do fitness challenges really work?

Fitness challenges aren't new. There's Michelle Bridges 12WBT and a bunch of other programs if you really want to lose weight.

What are pregnant women Googling?

Pregnancy is a huge change for any woman, so it's natural we'll have questions - and turn to Google to ask them.



Can't decide?

Check out the Essential Baby Names section for some inspiration

Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.