Caring for one’s client is essential to winning a trial. How to care about a mass murderer?
In what looks like a promotional interview, masterful trial lawyer and persuader Gerry Spence — pictured here with me near the end of the 1995 Trial Lawyers College, when my grey hairs were few — underlines that caring for one’s client is an essential element of winning a trial. How does a lawyer care for a client whom the lawyer knows committed such unspeakable crimes as murder? The lawyer starts by going back in time to the criminal defendant’s birth, when the defendant had a clean slate. Had the defendant gone home as the child of a successful medical doctor, for instance, nurtured with love and caring along the way, the defendant likely would not be the defendant. Gerry sees plenty of criminal defendants as victims themselves, of tough upbringings, and being deprived of love. Whether or not they are such victims, Gerry’s words in his video interview above, starting around minute 5:30, helps bridge the gap from the following thoughts on everyone’s interconnectedness, to winning for them at trial by having total caring and compassion for them:
Publius Terence aptly underlined: Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto./I am human: nothing human is alien to me. Thich Nhat Hanh takes Publius Terrence a step further in his poem “Please Call Me by My True Names,” recognizing that but for his fortune in experience, resources, compassion and wisdom from an early age, he could have become the child raped by a pirate as well as the pirate who raped her, “my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.” Similarly, Mitakuye Oyasin. We are all related, and it is an illusion and delusion to think otherwise. There is no them versus us in the final analysis. It is all we, including our perceived and actual opponents and enemies. Connectedness with each other is not some sort of touchy-feely approach to life, but a reality that, once recognized by more people, will reduce wars, violence upon others and trespasses against others, and will bring us towards a much better world where people will open their hearts to each other and share with each other of themselves and of their resources.