Over at Crime & Federalism, Norm sets forth what he sees as several common misconceptions about criminal law. I'm largely in agreement with him, but I think he really hits the nail on the head with the last one:
6. Other people's problems. Until a loved one is accused or convicted of a crime, the criminal courts are dark places inhabited by fiends; criminal defense lawyers are little more than scum. Only when a loved one is accused does the perspective change. In such a moment, the full weight and power of random acts, assumption, pride, prejudice and all the human failings become apparent. In such moments, the state's power to destroy without feeling is apparent. In such moments, what looked like other people's problems suddenly become our own, and we see the need for defenders of people in trouble. That is the sum and substance of the criminal law, and I am proud of the fact that I can give my life, talents and energies to people in dark places.Very true. And I, like Norm, am proud to represent people in dark places.