Supreme Court decisions are replete with statements about how crucial it is to have a defense attorney represent the person who is accused of crime. Defense counsel may accurately be considered law enforcers. While representing a lone individual against all the power of the state, counsel must “police the police” to determine if there has been an unconstitutional search, a coerced confession, an unlawfully suggestive lineup, or the fabrication of testimony. Defense counsel must attempt to ensure that the prosecutor is adhering to the professional requirement not merely to convict, but to do justice and comply with his obligations to turn over Brady material to the defense. Perhaps most challenging of all is the need to remind the judge of the constitutional mandate as well as the professional obligation to protect the rights of the defendant rather than treat him as a docket number to be quickly processed and sent to jail.
Warrior for justice may be an overly romanticized descriptor, but it is how the author perceives the role of the criminal defense attorney. The defense attorney is on the front lines doing, if not God’s work, surely something quite close to it. And, as is true with anything that important, the work is anything but easy. Obstacles, barriers, and road blocks are on the path. These obstacles, barriers, and road blocks are discussed in this article.
The Champion (Magazine of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers), June 2012, at 38
The Champion (Magazine of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers) at 38 June