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Criminal Law

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Defense (criminal procedure)

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Defending And Despairing: The Agony Of Juvenile Defense, Abbe Smith Jan 2006

Defending And Despairing: The Agony Of Juvenile Defense, Abbe Smith

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

I believe there is no more important work than defending kids, especially those accused of serious crimes. The consequences of juvenile crime are increasingly severe, whether kids remain in the juvenile system or are prosecuted as adults. We lock up too many people in this country, many of whom are children. Surely, at the start of the twenty-first century - given our knowledge about the causes of juvenile delinquency and crime - we can do more than put troubled kids in cages. So, why not work with young offenders who are on their way to becoming adult clients, to try …


Defending The Unpopular Down-Under, Abbe Smith Jan 2006

Defending The Unpopular Down-Under, Abbe Smith

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The ethics of criminal defence lawyers and others who represent 'unpopular clients' is a largely unexplored area of legal scholarship in Australia. This article seeks to examine, from a comparative perspective, the motivations and ethical practices of these lawyers. Using interviews with Australian lawyers who represent the criminally accused, prisoners and asylum-seekers, as well as relevant ethical rules and commentary, the article identifies why lawyers undertake unpopular cases and, ultimately, what sustains them. Contrasting Australian legal practice with that in the US, the article discusses the sometimes competing professional obligations to court and client, truth and advocacy, public and profession. …


The "Monster" In All Of Us: When Victims Become Perpetrators, Abbe Smith Jan 2005

The "Monster" In All Of Us: When Victims Become Perpetrators, Abbe Smith

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this Essay, I will discuss the "cycle of violence”, that transforms victims into perpetrators, focusing on the Aileen Wuornos case. I will examine the odd lack of support for Wuomos and others like her as soon as they become perpetrators. I will then talk about men and boys who have been sexually abused and become perpetrators. I will conclude by arguing that the prevailing feminist approach to crime and violence has been too narrowly focused on victims, and has - witting or not - contributed to the nation's extraordinary and exclusive turn to punishment over the past three decades.


Defense-Oriented Judges, Abbe Smith Jan 2004

Defense-Oriented Judges, Abbe Smith

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this essay, I argue in favor of so-called "defense-oriented judges." Instead of the increasingly prosecution-oriented judicial aspirants who ascend to the bench, we need more judges who care about protecting the rights of the accused, who will put the government to the test, and who have some compassion for those who come before them. Instead of judges who are nothing more than rubber-stamps for prosecutors, deferring to prosecutors at every step because they believe most defendants are in fact guilty, or because they dislike defense lawyers, we need judges who are truly neutral and disinterested. Instead of judges who …


The Difference In Criminal Defense And The Difference It Makes, Abbe Smith Jan 2003

The Difference In Criminal Defense And The Difference It Makes, Abbe Smith

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

My own view of criminal defense lawyering owes much to Monroe Freedman. I agree with his "traditionalist view”, of criminal defense ethics as a lawyering paradigm in which zealous advocacy and the maintenance of client confidence and trust are paramount. Simply put, zeal and confidentiality trump most other rules, principles, or values. When there is tension between these "fundamental principles” and other ethical rules, criminal defense lawyers must uphold the principles, even in the face of public or professional outcry. Although a defender must act within the bounds of the law, he or she should engage in advocacy that is …


Faulty Adversarial Performance By Criminal Defenders In The Crown Court, Peter W. Tague Jan 2001

Faulty Adversarial Performance By Criminal Defenders In The Crown Court, Peter W. Tague

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Who is the more able advocate, the lawyer in the United States or the barrister in England and Wales? Answering that question is extremely difficult because of a multitude of differences in the procedural regimes in which each works and in the scope of each's responsibility. Yet, one facet stands out, like a full moon in a dark sky: The comparative number of defenders who on appeal have been accused of having provided inappropriate representation in the process leading to conviction . . . Part 1 discusses the procedural hurdles that make challenging the trial barrister's conduct more difficult than …


Defending The Innocent, Abbe Smith Jan 2000

Defending The Innocent, Abbe Smith

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Of the legal scholarship examining the representation of the innocent accused, most has to do with guilty pleas, not trial or post-trial advocacy. Most of this literature is concerned with the pressure put on innocent defendants to plead guilty in order to receive a more lenient sentence than what they would get if found guilty at trial. This problem is compounded by the inability of poor defendants to make bail. Unfortunately, there are other, equally insidious ways to pressure innocent defendants to plead guilty. When addressing the question of defending the innocent at trial or in a post-conviction challenge, most …


Defending Defending: The Case For Unmitigated Zeal On Behalf Of People Who Do Terrible Things, Abbe Smith Jan 2000

Defending Defending: The Case For Unmitigated Zeal On Behalf Of People Who Do Terrible Things, Abbe Smith

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Although defending defending may be an endless pursuit, I cannot help taking it on. I am, after all, a defender myself, and defending fellow defenders seems to go with the territory. Of course, attacks on criminal defenders do not come out of nowhere - difficult and complex questions often arise in criminal defense work. Unfortunately, the questions that are raised in the aftermath of a high profile case such as the Abner Louima case are usually the easy ones - questions that have more to do with the nature of the adversarial system than with the values or ethics of …