Tony Serra’s total commitment against snitching
San Francisco lawyer Tony Serra ever-inspires me to practice life and criminal defense as a calling, and not as a trade nor with moneymaking as the primary purpose.
Thanks to a listserv member who posted these video links here and here, probably from quite a few years back, where Tony explains why he is so opposed to snitching — and repeatedly goes after snitches — that he would even advise his own child not to snitch, even if that brought the high risk of decades more in prison. Tony would tell his child that he would honor his child for such a decision forever after, and that such a decision would put his child in the position of doing a great deed for society, while also giving the child a chance to use the prison time productively to become an expert on any number of subjects that he could read on.
Serra is so resolute against snitching that he would counsel against serving in even the otherwise most plum and helpful public defender positions if such service would require snitch work. His above-linked videos go into much greater depth than that about his opposition to snitching, including the risk that even lawyers have of being snitched on for defendants to try to save their own skins, and the unfairness of the government’s being able to bribe snitches with better deals without the defense having any equivalent tool in dealing with potential defense witnesses.
I advise potential clients to find other counsel if they wish to snitch. By avoiding snitch work, I avoid feeling like a temporarily deputized prosecutor or police officer. I have lost numerous potential clients by telling them to hire other lawyers if they wish to snitch, but perhaps have been hired by numerous others — at least those who are not likely to need to consider snitching — who agree with my approach.
Agree or not with Tony on snitching; he puts his money where his mouth is.