You may have noticed that there is a political election happening in this country. If you don’t live under a rock or own a computer, television, radio or phone, chances are you have been bombarded with political ads and opinions. Don’t worry, this blog is not about any campaign or any candidate running for office. It is about something we noticed in the last few weeks during this political cycle. After mulling this all over, the circumstances have made me want to make a clear and unequivocal statement: I am proud to be a criminal defense attorney.
In this cycle, there has been a couple of instances in which candidates have been called to task for defending the “wrong kind” of people. Attorneys running for office have been the victims of smear campaigns and attack ads that point to being weak on crime or defending bad people. This has lead a couple of distinguished criminal defense attorneys to speak out and defend their profession.
Proud To Be A Criminal Defense Attorney
Barry J. Pollack of the National Association of Defense Lawyers and Brad Lint of the Iowa Association for Justice both penned letters to U.S.A Today and the Des Moines Register respectively, in the defense of their chosen profession. Both are compelling articles that I recommend reading.
Lint points back to one of our countries founding fathers, John Adams, a criminal defense attorney, himself. He wrote that Adams took on a very controversial case at the time, the defense of the British soldiers responsible for the Boston Massacre. Pollack expands on the case, noting that the case could have had disastrous consequences for the future president, both personally and professionally. So compelled was Adams to the ideals of a fair trial that he took on the case, despite the cries for mob justice, and defended his clients to the best of his ability.
Later in life, Adams would write, “The part I took in Defence of Cptn. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country.” In short, despite the potential personal consequences, Adams believed that every man (or woman) deserved their day in court, innocent until proven guilty.
This is one of the core principles that this country was founded upon, a principle that has guided this country for over 200 years. Both Lint and Pollack write that this is a tradition that should be praised, not looked down upon. This is one of the very ideas that helps to keep our nation free and fair. As a defense attorney, I must agree, although I would point to another quote by John Adams that speaks to me:
“It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, ‘whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,’ and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.” (John Adams: His Words)
In a nutshell, it is vital to society to protect the innocent, even if that means that some guilty parties go free. It is crucial to have defense attorneys that are willing to defend their client to the best of their ability, regardless of what public sentiment may be. As a society, we must understand that in order for the wheels of justice to continue to turn, every defendant is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. We need criminal defense attorneys that are passionate about defending that presumption of innocence, even when the mobs may disagree.
This is why I am proud to be a criminal defense attorney.