I read today about a defense attorney who packed up his office and left town with all of his clients' money and opened a new business (non-law related) and I know of another who obsconded with clients' money and moved to an entirely new country. Both of the attorneys were, rightfully, disbarred. It begs the question from those outside the practice of law, aren't all defense attorneys really like these two but just a bit less sleazy.
Take for example those of us who practice DUI Defense. Look, no one condones driving while impaired, it is a foolish proposition to assume a DUI defense attorney would want someone on the road who has the potential to harm others due to their impairment. What we, as DUI Defense attorneys, and defense attorneys in general, are really doing is defending liberty and ensuring we don't have a police state wherein all accused persons are automatically found culpable.
Think about it: What kind of world would we live in if just because the government were to allege some offense it would be good enough. Even when police officers, judges and attorneys are accused of DUI, they enter a plea of not guilty at arraignment, why?, because there is a process and the government has an obligation to prove its case.
I hear all the time "well the State wouldn't have charged him if he did nothing wrong." It is a difficult thing sometimes to get that bias out of the minds of jurors. I've conducted numerous jury trials and the bias towards the actions of the government comes up, my response is always, have you heard of the Duke LaCrosse case, have you heard of the thousands of people acquitted/released from improper findings due to subsequent DNA tests, what about rouge DUI cops trying to garner an award for most arrests (this happened)?
So it is our job as defense attorneys to represent the best interests of those accused of a crime, even DUI. DUI defendants have less rights than your average criminal: they don't have a right to a private conversation with an attorney, in King County there really is no speedy trial right (right to a trial within a certain amount of time) and there is no defense to signing something and agreeing to somethign you didn't intend to or were coerced into signing when you could not be in a position to know what you were doing - so DUI are tough to defend, but I do it, I do it because everyone deserves a defense, even those who snear when I tell them what I do for a living.
I see moms, sons, daughters, sisters, CEOs, lawyers, police officers, etc. come into my office because they are accussed of a crime. Are they automatically guilty in my eyes, of course not! That is because I have seen all kinds of charges which were unsubstantiated.
The next time you get into a conversation about whether defense attorneys are defending guilty people, remember that anyone, anyone can be charged with an offense which has no merit. Nelson Mandela, Dr. King, Duke LaCrosse, O.J. (yes O.J.! - the state didn't prove its case), etc. etc. etc.
So the next time you think about making some sort of negative statement about defense attorneys remember, you never know when you may need one....ponder this as well: did you cheat on your taxes, did you speed, did you hit that parked car and didn't leave a note, did you get home safe after drinking too much and driving, did you take that extra bit of money for something at work (a bribe, no matter how small), if you did, then you could be in the need of the services of a defense attorney. We are moms, dads, fathers, mothers and helpers, mostly we are helpers, ensuring thousands of people's rights are protected daily. And you know what: we are here when you need us regardless of how you feel about defense atotrneys at this very moment!