February 25, 2013 at 4:00 pm
I did not think much about the criminal world when I applied to law school. I knew why I was coming and it had nothing to do with the criminal realm (unless it was white collar). I had no desire to represent or defend alleged criminals.
Many people abhor lawyers for various reasons particularly those lawyers that represent alleged murderers. I never felt one way or the other about those attorneys that represent alleged murderers but I just could not imagine myself carrying out that task.
Last week when we received our fact pattern for our national mock trial competition, I was given that exact role.
While the general public, oft times abhors the lawyers that represent the most hardened criminals, those (alleged) criminals need someone to zealously represent them. Many times the representation is not about the client’s guilt or innocence but about the guarantees to procedural due process granted to all of us by the Constitution. It is about the right to a fair trial. It is about punishment that is equal to the crime charged and not overly excessive.
So from my mock trial I am not only learning about courtroom skills or criminal law & procedure but about the soft skills of zealous representation and how to personalize a client accused of a heinous crime.
I know I don’t have to visit my fictitious client in jail or look at bloody and gory photos but I am now beginning to understand the mind of a criminal defense attorney and the difficult job that each one has and the respect they deserve.
P.S. My client didn’t do it!