07 Jan What if a criminal trial were held and no criminal defense lawyers came?
What if a criminal trial were held and no criminal defense lawyers came?
For India’s rape-murder case against the five accused of gang-raping and violently assaulting a medical student in additional horrific ways, Reuters today reports: "With popular anger simmering against the five men and a teenager accused in the case, most lawyers in the district where the trial will be held refuse to represent them."
Compare the foregoing reluctance to the widespread, but certainly not total, willingness and honor by so many lawyers in the United States to defend those charged with even the most horrific acts, frequently for free or at substantially reduced billing rates. Many of those lawyers are not only lawyers regularly practicing blue collar criminal defense; many such lawyers are thoroughly establishment lawyers from thoroughly establishment law firms, and Nixon admirer and Oklahoma attorney Stephen Jones defended the ultimately convicted and executed Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing prosecution.
Of course lawyers representing detested people will sometimes find themselves detested. Such venom towards lawyers will be reduced when people realize that if lawyers do not fight to the hilt — and are prevented by law an judges from fighting to the hilt — for the rights of those accused of heinous crimes, everyone else’s rights are much more at risk.
William Kunstler, the jokester he was, responded to Jewish Defense League members protesting outside his office over his defense of El Sayid Nossair — charged and convicted for being their leader Meir Kahane’s assassin — by having coffee and doughnuts delivered to the protesters. Make mine a coconut doughnut.