Also known as “mic in face make lawyer say lots of things”.
Then yesterday I happened to read this post by the prolix (his word, not mine) David Giacalone at f/k/a. Essentially, he coins the phrase “Defenders Red Herring Credo” and is disappointed at the blatant nonsense put forth by a particular set of defense lawyers in defense of their clients – to the media. Read the post, which, while rather long, does not seem that way because of his writing style.
The thrust is this: Why are defenders so tied to making some form of statement proclaiming their clients’ innocence or ridiculing the State’s evidence to the media, no matter how patently absurd and does it not show criminal defense lawyers in a poor light and lead some credence to the general perception that we are not to be trusted?
Scott, in the comments, agrees with me for the most part that the less said the better and it probably is best if you say nothing at all. No one I know of was convicted because his lawyer said “not guilty” on the courthouse steps.
But he also threw this in:
But the one thing to remember is that the defense has no duty of fairness to the public. It’s only duty is to its clients within the bounds of the law.
I agree completely, but in the case of CSS*, I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. Our duty to the client should encourage restraint on the courthouse steps. Just because the clients (or more likely the media) want some outward showing of their “innocence”, doesn’t mean we have to give it to them.
First, we should believe what we’re saying, because if we don’t, it comes across pretty clearly. Second, as lawyers thinking two steps ahead, we should be careful of what we assert, because people and the media and the internet have long memories and if we can’t prove it later on…well, that doesn’t look too good either.
Finally, and most importantly in my opinion, today’s 10pm news watchers are tomorrow’s potential jurors. Much has been written in the blawgosphere over the past months about what best convinces a jury. Credibility was oft repeated. A jury will be more inclined to believe your client’s version of the story if they’re more inclined to believe you.
But if they remember you as the smarmy lawyer they saw spout nonsense on TV, will they be more inclined to believe your next client? Maybe, maybe not. Do you want to take that risk?
*not to be confused with Cascading Style Sheets