Criminal Defense: Putting Aside Personal Feelings

Courtroom Defense AttorneyA friend of mine recently asked me about cases I wouldn’t take. After all, being in the business of criminal defense can challenge one’s personal comfort zone on many levels.

I think most of us have that one case or type of case we just don’t want, and it’s often hard to say where that line is.  Speaking for myself, and having suffered the loss of a child, I just cannot do an infanticide case. It just hits too close to home for me, and I honestly believe that might prevent me from being fully effective. It would also be a personal emotional burden that I am not prepared to take on.

Another example is the recent shooting of the young woman in Homewood, after she rejected the advances of a man in a nightclub. In that particular case, the victim is related to a personal friend of mine. I just cannot do that to someone I’ve known and consider a friend.

Does this mean that I have no personal feelings beyond my friendship with her relative?

Of course not. I have a wife, a daughter and a step daughter. I am as moved as much as anyone when I see such a terrible crime like that take place.  I am very much against violence against women, regardless of the situation. Yet I also know, when it comes to domestic violence, there are many factors at play, and even a perpetrator of the act may have extenuating circumstances that, while not exonerating them, does offer some relevant facts when it comes to guilt and or punishment.

For example, sufferers of PTSD can sometimes react violently in situations. That has to be factored in when considering justice. A combat veteran who is accused of spousal abuse may need treatment more than they need punishment. Justice is rarely black and white.

So yes, there are cases defense attorneys will not take.

But we defense attorneys also chose this line of work – no one forced us to represent some of the least desirable elements of our society.  And very few of us are getting rich at criminal defense.

Bottom line – no one practices criminal defense if the subject matter of people doing nasty things to each other is disturbing.

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