Tuesday, August 12, 2008


You’ve all heard some of the lawyer jokes, like “What do you call a bus load of lawyers going over a cliff? A good start.” Of course there are many more because lawyers are easy to make fun of. If you need one however, you cannot have a better friend. The minute he has the retainer in his hands, he is your advocate. You can be the vilest of the vile and he will stand by you through thick and thin.

This essay is however, a criticism of some recent antics I have witnessed by lawyers.

Just last week the trial of the driver of Bin Laden concluded in a military court. He was found guilty of many offenses and is to be sentenced soon. His lawyer went ballistic. He couldn’t believe that his client could be found guilty of anything. His lawyer is, by the way, a military officer. A law school professor also screamed to the press that such trials were going to put our country in a very poor light with the rest of the world. As a sidebar, this particular professor will soon be defending another one of the detainees at Gitmo. He must believe that he needs to try the case in the press and have world opinion with him before he gets to court. He seems to care very little if his comments and cries are picked up by our enemies and used as propaganda against us. Another thing to consider is that if wartime combatants are expected to be tried in American courts with all the rights of American citizens, many more of them will probably die on the battlefield.

The trial of the woman who ran a stop sign and hit a school bus killing four school children in southern Minnesota has also concluded. You may remember this case. I wrote about it previously as the woman is an illegal alien and had given a phony name at the time of the accident. She was cut out of the driver’s seat by the “jaws of life” and her foot was stuck under the gas pedal. Her lawyer made it clear to the press before trial that she wasn’t even driving the vehicle. He said it was instead her boyfriend who had since disappeared. The jury found her guilty of all twenty four counts and she still has to face federal charges. Her lawyer held a press conference crying that she was innocent. He criticized the trial, the jury, and anything else he could think of. He looked for all the world like an idiot.

So, what to make of these antics. I thought that lawyers were supposed to make sure their clients got a fair trial and that their rights were protected. I wasn’t aware of the fact that they were supposed to determine their guilt or innocence. I thought that was the job of the jury. Today’s lawyers seem to think that to be successful they must get their clients off. Anytime they don’t they see that as a failure. I have a bit of news for them. Sometimes their client is guilty and is deserving of the punishment they are dealt. Just because they are found guilty doesn’t necessarily mean that they received poor representation.

I think lawyers need to back up and remember what their job is. Their canons of ethics forbid their lying to clear their clients. That should extend to press conferences as well. Issuing misleading and critical statements are not a part of their job. They represent by protecting their client’s rights.

Here’s another bit of counsel for attorneys. If you don’t like being the butt of so many jokes, quit acting like a clown. Remember your ethics. Practice law, not propaganda.

Ron Scarbro August 11, 2008

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