Monday, July 25, 2011
The Lincoln Lawyer Illustrates An Unfair Perception Of Defense Lawyers ~by Legal Eagle 7
Last night while watching the movie The Lincoln Lawyer, I began reflecting upon a statement of a detective to a defense lawyer, "How do you sleep at night?" Ironically, Matthew McConaughey gets off the elevator and replies with a comment about how the district attorney's office could not be trusted. Later in the movie we learn that the Lincoln Lawyer's worst fear came true, an innocent man had gone to jail for a crime that he did not commit. While winning the trial for the current client, the Lincoln Lawyer exonerates his past client and corrects the past wrong by implicating his current client in the previous murder. This prompts the detective to say, "Just who are you working for?"
This movie illustrates a very real point. Defense lawyers, especially in high profile cases, are despised by the public even though the search for justice should be the goal of both sides. (Johnny Cochran, Jose Baez, and Drew Peterson's lawyer, Joel Brodsky BRODSKY INTERVIEW LINK come to mind.) It is unfortunate that the movie portrays defense lawyers as slimy. All lawyers, including prosecutors, like in the Casey Anthony trial, should not have a win at all costs attitude. (Putting on testimony that there were 84 searches for chloroform when in reality there was just one. JOHN BRADLEY LINK.) Fairness and integrity must extend to both sides of the bar despite any public pressure to rush to judgment. ANTHONY CAUTION LINK.
The reality is that both prosecutors and defense attorneys are necessary for our system of justice to function. So while the Nancy Graces of the world or those following the Lauren Spierer investigation may be frustrated when persons of interest do not speak based on advice of counsel, keep in mind the Fifth Amendment should always be considered before one opens his mouth as it is one of the rights our founding fathers fought and died to obtain.
In sum, the movie is very entertaining. However, for lawyers battling in the trenches each day, it highlights and reenforces some preconceived public perceptions that need to be corrected.