Combining the themes of two of my posts this week, Anita Witness has this post (OOPS! Just realized this post is from January, but it is still pertinent and she says it way better than I do anyway) about the ability of private sector criminal defense attorneys to select the types of cases they take on. She writes:
When you work in a public defender’s office, you don’t have the opportunity to be selective about the cases you work on. In the private sector, however, you can make the choice to avoid certain kinds of cases. For instance, there are a number of investigators and attorneys who choose not to do death penalty cases because they find them to be too stressful. It’s good to know your limits.
It seems like the most common kind of case that defense- minded people seek to avoid are those that involve crimes against children. A former co-worker of mine used to say that he simply would not do cases that involved crimes against children once he was a father. At the time, I wondered how I would feel once I had children, especially as a woman, since these cases have a tendency to come knocking at your door as a female investigator. Now that I have a kid, I can say that I have no problem taking a case that involves crimes against children, anymore than I have a problem taking a case involving exclusively adults.
For defendants charged with crimes against children, the battle to get a fair trial can be steep and rough. They are often villified in the press and given three part names. A criminal defense investigator may be more likely to encounter animosity in the process of doing your job, like being questioned by witnesses as to one’s personal motivation in representing an accused child (fill in the blank here)-er.
Which is part of the reason why I am unsure of statements like: “I don’t represent snitches” or “I won’t take child molester cases”. As Miranda and I were discussing yesterday, I could understand if there is a case with a particular set of circumstances that hits close to home and does, indeed, affect the attorneys ability to provide an adequate defense and the attorney chooses not to represent that client. However, I don’t think that equates to not trying all cases where the defendant was charged with a certain offense.