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Listen to your client, or else

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After practicing criminal defense for many years, a lawyer can get jaded by some of the more cockamamie-sounding urgings from clients, including the absence of fingerprints when ten witnesses and five videocameras caught the double-killing, and the shooting defendant was then tackled and held until the arrival of the police.

Lawyers must nevertheless give their clients the benefit of the doubt. Here is a case in point. A colleague told of a client threatened with a probation or pretrial release violation for submitting a urine test that came back positive for cocaine from a drug lab. The client insisted that he had never taken any illegal drugs, and urged his lawyer to have the DNA in the urine tested for contamination.

Sure enough, two different people’s DNA was found in the urine that came back with a cocaine positive for the defendant. The lawyer said that someone at the lab even admitted to other similar contamination problems.

I believe that a huge percentage of people lie so much that it becomes a major effort for many not to lie even to their lawyers. That does not justify not giving the client the benefit of the doubt in working together in fighting for victory. Moreover, to do otherwise disserves the clients who tell the truth.