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10/12/08 11:36 AM
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Lazy Mike
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I know there are a lot of things I don't understand in life and I try not to judge people, especially if I don't know the full story.

That being said, I consider myself a moral person and I really can't understand how a defense attorney can work day to day without it bringing up an unbearable amount of guilt.

Why do you do it? How do you do it? Your post about getting the sex offender off and getting the other a light sentence in the Joe Son thread just doesn't make sense to me. I could 100% understand if you were defending someone you felt was innocent but that post didn't paint that picture.

I would understand if you didn't reply as of course you don't have to explain yourself to me, but if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to try and see it from your point of view. I tried to send this to you as a private message but you're only accepting Pro and Friend mail.
10/12/08 11:37 PM
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bflex
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OK, here goes.

I am a history nerd. Actually, I am just a nerd in tough guy clothing. When you read the constitution and understand the history behind the articles and the amendments, you can begin to fully understand why it was written. The reason was to prevent injustices that were prevelant during England's rule.

When reading the constitution in context, you understand that the founders of this country considered State misconduct far more egregious than any crime that an individual can commit. I took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. I take that seriously. The way that I protect the constitution is through protecting the rights of my clients guaranteed in the constitution.

My job as a criminal defense attorney is to get my client the softest landing possible period. To prevent the unlimited resources of the state from putting the screws to my client. I am literally the last line of defense.

This doesn't bring an unbearable amount of guilt as I feel that the Constitution of this country was ordained by God. I am doing what I was called to do by God and, like Jesus, sometimes that means reaching my hand out to the lowest of the low, the leapers, the tax collectors, the rapists, murderes, etc. I don't condone the behavior, but I do believe that it is not immoral to hold the State to its burden of proof no matter what the case.

I don't like sex cases. They gross me out. They upset me. So I don't take them anymore unless appointed.

As to walking the one guy, well, the case was wishy washy. The evidence wasn't all that strong. Very little physical evidence and what was there cut both ways as it was easily explainable. There was no DNA evidence and the "victim", although young, had 0 credibility. She had motive to lie. Did somebody molest this girl? probably. Was it my client? The jury didn't think so. 12 people said no. Talking to them afterwards, most believe that the girl lied. About 1/2 think she lied as to the whole thing. About 1/2 think she lied as to the perp.

As to the 10 year sentence guy, that was a plea of convience. Two life sentences with no parole v. 10 years. I could have seen the jury going either way, but the risk was too great. Yeah, the little girl could graphically describe a blow job. However, she admitted that she snuck and watched her parents porno films with her cousin. Did somebody molest her? In this case, I am sure the answer is yes. Was it my client? He says no, evidence cut both ways. Nothing conclusive, but the State had a decent circumstancial case.

No more God talk tonight.
10/12/08 11:50 PM
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ViewType
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As an oft-times defense attorney, let me chime in. Your very question is ignorant, immoral, and offensive.

You say you are moral. Are you? Do you download songs or movies off the internet? That's stealing. A federal felony. Do you ever speed or change lanes without signaling? In many jurisdictions that's a crime. So how "moral" are you? Or do you just pick and choose which crimes are bad?

How moral is it to deny someone their Constitutional Rights, including the right to counsel? How moral is it to consider someone anything other than innocent until proven guilty? And that proof must be made by the government and beyond a reasonable doubt, shouldn't it? For history teaches us the immoral things that happen otherwise.

Is it moral to put innocent people in prison? Because that happens a lot. And the only thing that prevents it from happening more is because defense attorneys hold the government to that high burden and standard.

So how dare you suggest that someone should feel guilty for being the one thing that holds cops, prosecutors, and judges to anything even resembling honesty? Who are you to judge those who stand up for the accused? Who are you to even judge the accused when you weren't there, have none of the evidence, and haven't heard their side of the story?

Moral. Interesting concept, isn't it?
10/13/08 10:22 AM
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Lazy Mike
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Ok first off thanks for the reply, second if my post was offensive I apologize because I honestly didn't mean for it to be.

Your post definitely helped me understand your point of view and I agree with your justification behind your position, not that it should necessarily matter to you either way.

I do have a follow up question if you don't mind, when you're trying a case do you ever think that maybe your client is getting too lenient of a punishment? Or do you remove those questions from your thoughts as they may hinder your effectiveness in your position?

ViewType - Ignorant, I'll agree I'm ignorant on the theory of criminal defense. That's why I was asking questions, I figured there were things I didn't know so I wanted to understand the opposing viewpoint.

Immoral, again I was asking questions to understand the other side. I guess you could chalk this one up to my ignorance.

Offensive, I apologize...sometimes the typed word reads differently than if I were talking to you directly. I feel that in a face to face conversation you would have understood that I wasn't trying to take that route, I was just trying to ask direct questions.

Yes I do download songs, yes I do speed and yes sometimes I neglect to use my turn signal. I'm not perfect and at times I'd agree I do pick and choose what crimes are bad.

If I felt I was 100% correct I could have just kept my thoughts to myself and continued to think I was right. The thing is I didn't, so I wanted to know more. I'm sure you felt like I was attacking your profession so I can understand you're defensiveness, I'd feel the same way if you were to make comments I didn't agree with about the military. It wasn't my intention to piss anyone off.
10/13/08 3:16 PM
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ViewType
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Mike, because you've taken the effort to be civil, I'll take a few deep breaths and try to say this without too much of my usual vitriol.
Lazy Mike - Ok first off thanks for the reply, second if my post was offensive I apologize because I honestly didn't mean for it to be.
You questioned the morality of my country, the Constitution, and work; but you didn't mean it to be offensive? Then you didn't think that through, did you?
Your post definitely helped me understand your point of view and I agree with your justification behind your position, not that it should necessarily matter to you either way.
And it doesn't. But anytime someone attacks the Constitution, I will step forward to defend it.
Ignorant, I'll agree I'm ignorant on the theory of criminal defense. That's why I was asking questions, I figured there were things I didn't know so I wanted to understand the opposing viewpoint.
But you didn't just ask, did you? You prefaced it with how you're a moral person and therefore can't understand it, thereby passing a judgment you admit you lacked the knowledge to pass.

Offensive, I apologize...sometimes the typed word reads differently than if I were talking to you directly. I feel that in a face to face conversation you would have understood that I wasn't trying to take that route, I was just trying to ask direct questions.
Do you really think so? I mean, really? Because to my face I would have thought your moral judgments were different somehow?
Yes I do download songs, yes I do speed and yes sometimes I neglect to use my turn signal. I'm not perfect and at times I'd agree I do pick and choose what crimes are bad.
Every single song you download is a federal crime. That makes you a serial criminal, facing probably hundreds of years in prison at this point (if run consecutive). Think about that for a while before you pass judgment on anyone else. Something about him without sin casting the first stone...
I'd feel the same way if you were to make comments I didn't agree with about the military.
Are you in the military, Mike? As was I. Then you took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. You should start by reading it. Because part of that document is the guarantee you are questioning the morality of. Not exactly upholding, is it? By the way, and I know this is a low blow, but that same Constitution is what establishes those copyrights you violate. How does that square with the oath you took?
10/13/08 3:55 PM
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Lazy Mike
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Edited: 10/13/08 3:59 PM
Member Since: 12/13/06
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You questioned the morality of my country, the Constitution, and work; but you didn't mean it to be offensive? Then you didn't think that through, did you?

In short, apparently not.
But you didn't just ask, did you? You prefaced it with how you're a moral person and therefore can't understand it, thereby passing a judgment you admit you lacked the knowledge to pass.

I also prefaced it with saying I was looking for the full story. I was trying to share where I was coming from and my reasoning for asking. I'll admit, I could have worded it better.
Do you really think so? I mean, really? Because to my face I would have thought your moral judgments were different somehow?

Yes, I really do think so. I believe that a lot more is communicated through body language and tone of voice, I think you would have felt my question was much more out of curiousity than an attack on your profession.
Are you in the military, Mike? As was I. Then you took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. You should start by reading it. Because part of that document is the guarantee you are questioning the morality of. Not exactly upholding, is it? By the way, and I know this is a low blow, but that same Constitution is what establishes those copyrights you violate. How does that square with the oath you took?

You know what? It has been a long time since I've read it, I'll follow that suggestion. I'm not interested in going blow for blow with you. I've apologized for offending you multiple times and have tried to explain that it wasn't my intention. If you require more, I don't know what to tell you.
10/13/08 11:13 PM
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bflex
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"when you're trying a case do you ever think that maybe your client is getting too lenient of a punishment?"

The answer is no. When you are trying a case, the punishment is yet to be determined. After sentencing, I have been known to say "shit, that's all?"

You didn't offend me dude. I get that question a lot. As long as it is asked respectfully, I have no problem.
10/17/08 6:48 PM
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Dojosensei
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bflex has always been good about not getting offended at this question. I've asked the same type of thing, in a different manner in the past.

I think the way I look at it is this:

As a defense attorney, if you know your client is guilty as sin, let's say of molesting a child, rape etc... does it ever bother you morally to defend this person? You are going through making sure every person out there that you defend was given a fair shake by the government and it's officers. If there was something not right, you have ammunition for your client. It doesn't stop the fact that your client molested a child, raped a woman etc... So your goal is to put your client, that you know is guilty, back out on the street so they can do this again, because they will.

Now, I'm all for holding law enforcement to the stardard they should be held to, don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of law enforcement and the abuse of power that happens quite often. However, I also do not want another child molestor out on the streets because a defense attorney knows their client is guilty and decides to defend their client saying law enforcement screwed up somehow.

The whole thing I look at is numerous conversations I've had with defense attorneys in the past. IF you KNOW your client is guilty and it happens to be in a similar charge that I named above, does this bother you morally?
10/17/08 9:25 PM
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Dojosensei - IF you KNOW your client is guilty and it happens to be in a similar charge that I named above, does this bother you morally?
Not in the slightest. The only way to ensure the government actually does its job is to make them do it. Every. Single. Time.

The second, and I mean the second, you let them get away with something, they will try to do it again and again and again. Even when you stop them, they'll try to change the rules. Innocent people are already railroaded through the system and wrongly convicted of terrible crimes far too often.

Innocent people die in wars. It's a terrible tragedy, and one we should seek to avoid as much as possible. But their sacrifice is honorable and necessary in order for us to live free. Sometimes, the same goes for victims of crime. They won't get justice, because we want justice for everyone, not just them.
10/18/08 12:45 AM
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Dojosensei
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So putting a child molestor that YOU yourself know is guilty as sin back on the street doesn't bother you at all?

I can usually justify just about ANYTHING. But, I am a firm believer in people like this "tot mom" in florida needs to be taken in the back and tortured until she tells what she knows about her missing child.

Child molestors should die, period, rapists as well. Putting them back on the street if I knew they were guilty, I just can't justify no matter what state or federal statute you show me.
10/18/08 2:06 AM
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Dojosensei - So putting a child molestor that YOU yourself know is guilty as sin back on the street doesn't bother you at all?
Not at all. It means the very principles of American freedom and justice -- the things that keep you and me out of prison -- have been upheld.
I can usually justify just about ANYTHING. But, I am a firm believer in people like this "tot mom" in florida needs to be taken in the back and tortured until she tells what she knows about her missing child.
And I am a firm believer that, in America, we don't torture people at all, especially not one the mere basis of suspicion or accusation.
Child molestors should die, period, rapists as well. Putting them back on the street if I knew they were guilty, I just can't justify no matter what state or federal statute you show me.
That's fine. I'm not going to force you to believe in the basic principles of freedom and liberty. Thankfully, our Founders were students of history and DID believe in those things and set up a system to protect them for everyone.
10/18/08 9:12 AM
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Dojosensei
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They owned slaves as well, we all want to go back to that? I need a lot of yard work done. Basic principles set up in any set of laws always seem to better suit the "founders" rather than the people.
10/18/08 9:39 PM
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ViewType
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Ah, so that's how you justify taking away freedom. Because slavery was wrong. That makes sense.
10/19/08 2:38 PM
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Dojosensei
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No, I don't justify taking away freedom at all, but I also can't justify for any other reason than MONEY defending and trying to get a child molestor, rapist or murder free...has dick to do with freedom, has everything to do with the all mighty dollar
10/19/08 2:51 PM
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ViewType
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Since most are defended by public defenders or court appointed counsel, you'll have a tough time supporting the money theory. The problem is, you're not really committed to the idea of everyone having a fair trial.
10/19/08 3:47 PM
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Dojosensei
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By fair trial you mean putting the guilty back out on the streets when they were damn well guilty as fuck and you found a loophole to keep them out of jail. Is that what you mean by fair trial? Problem is, that's not a fair trial for the victim only the guilty. Door swings both ways, you just wouldn't make any money on the victim.
10/19/08 4:54 PM
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Dojosensei - By fair trial you mean putting the guilty back out on the streets when they were damn well guilty as fuck and you found a loophole to keep them out of jail. Is that what you mean by fair trial?
That's exactly what I mean by fair trial. If the government can't prove their case, then no one should be convicted. That's called justice.
Problem is, that's not a fair trial for the victim only the guilty.
Ah, the infamous "victim's rights" bullshit. The victim wants a fair trial? Then put the victim on trial. Make it so an acquittal results in the victim or cops or prosecutors going to jail for lying. But since only the accused faces penalty, they're the only ones who need fairness.
Door swings both ways, you just wouldn't make any money on the victim.
I already eviscerated this defamatory argument, but I'll try again. Since I currently only do criminal defense on the side, and I only do court appointed cases because I'm passionate about helping the indigent, I can guarantee you that no matter how much you chant about it, I don't make any money off the accused.
10/20/08 1:05 AM
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Dojosensei
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Do cops lie, ABSOLUTELY. Should they be held accountable, ABSOLUTELY. Should prosecutors be held accountable, ABSOLUTELY. Should you represent someone you know is guilty, ABSOLUTELY NOT.

I had a couple of friends that had to go to court for criminal cases. Crazy bitches that said they did shit they didn't do, did they go to jail, YEP, should they have, NOPE. If I knew they were guilty I would say they absolutely needed to go to jail, doesn't matter what loophole I can find to keep them out of jail, they did it, I know they did, they need to be in jail.

I did however see the charges (financial) that were billed by the courts, gee...included court appointed attorney fees of a few hundred bucks. So the court appointed attorneys were making money off of this.

Do I think we need defense attorneys, FUCKING A we do. Do I think a defense attorney should defend a client they know is guilty and try to get them off on a loophole, FUCK NO.
10/20/08 1:56 AM
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You know what we call those loopholes? Laws.
10/20/08 12:34 PM
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bflex
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"Should you represent someone you know is guilty, ABSOLUTELY NOT"

I'd have no clients.
10/20/08 12:52 PM
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Dojosensei
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Laws, yeah heard of those, unfortunately they better serve the murderers, rapists and child molestors.

I can understand using a law to get a lighter sentence etc... but I just cannot justify putting a murderer or a rapist back out on the street because someone didn't cross a T or dot an I.

Do I like cops, not really much at all so in no way should anyone think I am sticking up for cops. Plenty of crooked ones out there.

Fuck, if I was ever in a bad situation, hell yeah I would want attorneys like you guys. If you did family law, I'd love to see you bend my ex over the statutes
10/20/08 3:07 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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Wow this thread made a few turns down Ugly Street.
10/20/08 4:12 PM
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You think this is ugly, you should see what happens when lawyers debate these things. I was going to compliment Dojosensei on being so civil.

DS, I think the disconnect you're experiencing is you think in terms of right versus wrong. That's fine, except that it's so subjective you cannot administer a system of justice based on that. Much like prayer in school. Everyone's for it, until they start having your kids face Mecca and kneel down to do it.

So you have to have an objective framework of legal versus illegal because it's the only way to keep justice and fairness for everyone. So when the law is broken, defendants walk. Even murderers and rapists.

Besides, most people who get murdered deserved it, and most rapes are nothing more than morning after regret.
10/20/08 4:31 PM
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bflex
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"Laws, yeah heard of those, unfortunately they better serve the murderers, rapists and child molestors."

Uhhhhh, seriously, no. Your experience in this field must come from watching Law and Order and Nancy Grace. Remember, the cases that make headlines do so because they are the exception and not the rule. In most cases, your client is straight up fucked.

It really skews an individuals point of view when they hear things on the news. I've had mothers of a client say things like "THEY ARE GOING TO GIVE HIM FIVE YEARS! SOME MURDERERS DON'T GET 5 YEARS." I calmly try to explain that what they are espousing is bullshit. Murder, in the first degree is life or death. Second degree is usually 30 to life. Manslaughter can be 5 to 15. Usually 15.
10/20/08 8:54 PM
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Shaz
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Hmm... Well, I definitely don't agree with the concept that a defense attorney shouldn't represent someone they know is guilty - like bflex said, they'd have no clients! :)

As for the "scum of the earth" type defendants, well they're still entitled to a defense. Just because they're charged with a particularly heinous crime doesn't mean they automatically go to jail, no lawyer, no trial. Hey, what if they're innocent? Personally I think that the VAST majority of defendants are guilty of at least something. In 10 years as a prosecutor, I've only had two cases where I believed the defendants were actually innocent (and I dismissed the charges).

I have no beef with the defense attorneys, they have a job to do just like we do, and everyone is entitled to a good defense.

That way I don't feel bad when I send them to jail :)

-Shaz!

(Prosecutors are the REAL public defenders!)

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