Tuesday, April 18, 2006

That did NOT come up in Ethics I

Here's an ethics question for you: if your client insists he's guilty and wants the death penalty, but you believe he's innocent, how do you best represent the interests of your client without breaching your fiduciary duty? What if your client is completely sick and you think if there was ever a man for whom the death penalty was adopted, his name is on your file? Can you respresent his wishes and yours by asking the jury for death? Or will that open you up to ABA sanction? Either way, you're not in a comfortable spot. My sympathy to the defense lawyers of Zacarias Moussaoui.


The Bard said...

You have a real dilemma there. One question: Why and how are you representing this guy in the first place?

The question might depend on what we think the biggest value at stake is. If we care most about personal autonomy, then you do what the client asks. If we think the lawyer's job is to look out for the client and protect the client from himself, then the lawyer goes against the client. But if the latter, does that cross the line between being an advocate and a Platonic Guardian?

On Zacharais M., I'm not sure the government is doing the prudent thing by asking for the chair, but that might be another issue.

Becca said...

My understanding is that M's lawyers have given up pretending they are on his side and are asking the jury to give him life simply to spite him because that's exactly what he doesn't want.

As to asking for the chair in this case, I might agree with you. I understand the German government was going to offer to help with discovery if we agreed not to seek death? That might have been valuable, and if M's lawyers are right, life is the worst thing we could do to this guy anyway.

Of course there is the possibility that M is just using reverse psychology... But that would be giving him a lot of credit.

Becca said...

Oh, and the lawyers were court appointed, so there's not a whole lot they could have done.