Mark Bennett wrote yesterday of “principles” that we live by and how he’s thinking of a new personal policy of not co-operating with the government (read: representing snitches).
His post is nice and heroic and principled, but I think it misses some practical aspect. These principles are fine in theory, but in reality, you may just end up harming your client. Not all cases are obviously snitch cases from the beginning. Sometimes you have a client that overhears something in prison and if it will help him, why not? Our ultimate duty and obligation is to our client and as defense lawyers we must explore every avenue that will result in benefit for the client.
To foreclose an avenue entirely in advance, arbitrarily, is doing the client a disservice. I’ve written about this before (here and here) and my thoughts haven’t changed. What’s the difference between declining to represent snitches and then saying murder is repugnant so I won’t represent murderers? It’s a slippery slope and if you start going down that road, don’t you have to ask yourself whether this is what you want to do?