Monday, March 31, 2008

Representing the Worst of the Worst

At TalkLeft over the weekend, Jeralyn had a post about long-time defense attorney Mickey Sherman's new book, How Can You Defend Those People? In it, he recounts, among other things, conversations he's had with other defense attorneys (including Jeralyn) about what kind of cases they will not handle. Jeralyn had a sample of the responses in her post, which range from the practical (Sherman won't do child rape cases, because he doesn't think he can effectively represent those defendants) to the principled (Ron Kuby won't do hate crimes, David Chesnoff won't represent snitches).

One caveat that is explicit in these responses but not explicitly set out - these folks are all private attorneys and can pick and choose who to represent. PDs are in a different situation and can't generally turn down representation on such grounds. Or at least I've never seen it happen. Perhaps that's why I can't, right off hand, think of a defendant I wouldn't defend on some sort of principled ground. Obviously, if I couldn't do the job for some reason, I'd have to step away. But I have a hard time imagining when that would happen, aside from situations where a friend or loved one was the victim or defendant.

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