So…has this actually happened to you? I client admitting to you that they did it after being found guilty (or even innocent)?
Sure. And on the flip side I’ve won plenty of cases precisely because the client told me the truth up front. Getting clients to be straight with you is one of the more challenging things in this job.
I thought that it was unethical for a lawyer to continue defending someone in good faith if they had admitted to the crime. Is that not the case?
Wherever did you hear that nonsense? How could anyone get an effective defense if they lost their lawyer every time they told him the truth? Attorney-client privilege exists for a reason.
I actually have no idea where I heard that, but it always struck me as a huge pain for a lawyer to have to create a defense when their client couldn’t even tell them what actually happened. Glad that’s not the case!
(Not actually a lawyer, I just read about them on the Internet.)
You might be thinking of the fact that the lawyer can’t have their client perjure themselves on the stand, or otherwise claim things they know to be false (I think that’s how it works?) So if you know that your client did it, you couldn’t start suggesting that your client was two states over at the time, even if there was evidence that could be interpreted that way or whatever.
I’m told that some lawyers purposefully do not want to know too many details so that they don’t have to be limited by the facts. This seems absurdly short-sighted to me. I feel like it would leave them prone to being blindsided by unexpected testimony or arguments.
If you know all the details, you can prepare for your case and advise your client better. Even if that advice is “This is going to be a slam dunk for them, let’s try to get you as good a plea as we can.”
Come to think of it, Legal Ethics probably deserves its own chapter.
It’s pretty simple:
1. The client comes first.
(That means you must act in the client’s best interests–not your own, not your bank account’s, not your firm’s, not even those of the person actually paying the fees. Just don’t break the law or act unethically in doing so.)
2. Don’t lie, cheat, or steal.
3. Don’t take on a case you can’t handle.
4. Do the work.
5. The client comes first.
6. Keep client secrets confidential.
7. Don’t bring or prolong actions without a valid reason–and merely making the other side’s life difficult isn’t a valid reason.
8. Be fair to the other side–don’t conceal what you’re supposed to disclose, follow the rules, and don’t knowingly allow false evidence.
9. Don’t mess with the proceedings–don’t talk to jurors during trial, make public statements that could prejudice things, etc.
10. Prosecutors: Don’t charge someone with a crime you can’t prove. Tell the other side at once anything that might be exculpatory, or could impeach your witness, or would materially help the defense. Remedy false convictions. Exercise, don’t neglect, your discretion.
Judges: Avoid impropriety and even the appearance of impropriety. Be impartial. Know what you’re doing.
11. No ambulance-chasing. Also no looking for people to sue — it’s unethical to solicit a client or start an action when a significant purpose is your own financial gain (looking at you, predatory class actions and private attorneys general).
12. The client comes first.
Rule 11, No ambulance-chasing, is a rule that should be violated, in a large number of cases if not the overwhelming majority. It conflicts with rule 1, 5, & 12.
Ambulance-chasing, in essence, allows the client to get a lawyer faster and cheaper. This is why it is hated by the established lawyer who expects the client to come to him and accept the price demanded by the established lawyer.
Now the lawyer’s self-interest can be in conflict with his client, but routinely, the client and lawyer both gain [or lose]. The predatory class actions have a lot of flaws, but these should be addressed directly, not by eliminating valid cases.
Ambulance chasing isn’t about getting lawyers faster and cheaper. It means taking advantage of someone who’s in a vulnerable position. That’s exactly the opposite of 1, 5 & 12.
You can advertise your services like any other lawyer (once itself highly frowned upon), but you can’t thrust yourself upon someone who just got injured or lost a loved one or whatever, take advantage of their stressed condition, just to get yourself a client. The practice of law is never about you. It’s only ever about the client.
And as for affordability, there are lawyers at almost every price point imaginable. Just because someone can’t afford my fees doesn’t mean they can’t afford someone else. This is even less of an issue in ambulance-chasing cases anyway, as they’re almost always contingency cases where the lawyer takes a standard percentage of any winnings. That percentage doesn’t change much from lawyer to lawyer, no matter how awesome or awful he may be.
That “ambulance chasing” leads to taking advantage of the client is simply a propaganda charge. It may happen some times, but it definitely does not in others. What is definite is that the sooner a lawyer is on the case, the better on average for the client, which in turn means that the basic ambulance chasing is beneficial for the client.
The dislike of lawyer advertising is much the same thing as attacks on ambulance chasing. In both cases, the desire is/was to protect the position of the established lawyer, not to aid the client.
So, what was that for? Make sure that your comic doesn’t violate the Hays Code?
Eh, it’s helpful to recognize that just because eyewitness identifications can be problematic doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily wrong. They’re responsible for the majority of wrongful convictions… but how many convictions ARE wrongful convictions, anyways?
Also, the whole “defendant withholds material information from his attorney and makes his situation worse” thing is distressingly common.
Actually, I’m a little disappointed with the anticlimactic way of the presentation.
Think: how much more dramatic would it have been if, despite the eyewitness ID going in, the jury STILL decided for a “not guilty” (to the great relief of DC, who had been able to convice them that the victim’s memory had been tampered with), and THEN the defendant had revealed to him that it had really been him?
Justice not done. And it could have been done, had Pi not thought she had enough evidence already and, maybe, had asked the police to investigate deeper into a possible connection between victim and perp and come up with the (ex-)girlfriend.
I just like my drama a little more dramatic.
Except I’d already repeated so much that an I.D. practically guarantees a conviction that it would have required contorted exposition to do it that way. This way also justified the narrator’s exasperation that I felt was necessary for the transition. Plus it’s high time we moved on to the next topic, and we didn’t need to spend a lot of pages on denouement.
But you’re right, it would have been more dramatic your way.
I am reminded of the guys who blew up the LA Times back about a century ago. Clarence Darrow came out to defend them, and they told him how innocent they were. So Darrow went all over the place to find witnesses, who all fingered the louts, and all the cops had to do was follow along behind to turn their dubious case into rock solid. After yelling about how he was going to prove their innocence, Darrow had to plead them guilty. According to Darrow at least, they might have walked if they had just been honest with him.
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