The attorney’s role in regard to his clients is: ‘As a lawyer, and a member of the legal profession, acting as a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice (Flowers).’ An attorney is an officer of the court respecting the need for truth and the practices of truth-seeking within the adversary system which is achieved by being an active member of the system that places justice as its core value (Flowers). The attorney’s role is to defend his client no matter what. He is to do whatever it takes to make sure they are found not guilty, as long as it is within the boundaries of the law. There are three roles a criminal attorney must play: 1. Advocate Role; 2. Officer of the Court and 3. Minister of Justice.
In the role of the advocate, the attorney must do whatever is necessary to save his client and to give his client an effective, quality representation. The attorney needs to probe the case carefully, find out the reason for your client to be involved and obtain statement from other that you client was not involved. The Supreme Court has said that not only he is responsible to his client but also the responsibility to the bar to maintain and achieve harmony with the bench. In order to achieve respect for the truth seeking function of the trial process, the attorney needs to do whatever it takes to make sure this is done even if necessary disregard the confidentiality rule. If the finds out that what he is defending is not the truth and by him defending the client another crime is involved, then they can overrule the confidentiality responsibility. Attorneys cannot get involved with any illegal activities such as fraud, misrepresentation and dishonesty. If they are they will be disbarred. Third: is the attorney must appreciate justice as a core value of the system.
If the attorney believes that his client is going to make false testimony, it is the attorney’s duty to persuade the client not to make false testimony. False testimony if very dangerous, but if the prosecutor finds out about it, they can use the evidence against your client and not only charge his with additional charges but also obstruction of justice. Because the attorney was involved in getting an agreement with the prosecutor, he may be charged with obstruction of justice. The attorney needs to have a straight talk with the defendant, and tell him what he is getting into and the consequences, not only for him but how it could affect the attorney. Most of the time this conversation will persuade the client to withdraw their plea, which then starts the whole process again, but at least they are not committing fraud. If this does not work then they need to withdraw from the case because your client used you to create fraud. If the attorney cannot persuade the client to change their testimony, then they also maybe sending an innocent person to prison or put on death row.
Attorneys have to maintain confidentiality regarding their client as long as the client’s activities are not dangerous. Confidentiality sometimes presents social problems. The information they know could stop a bank from failing or problems to society, but if it is not dangerous then they need to keep all information quiet. ‘A lawyer may reveal such information to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary: (1) [t]o prevent the client from committing a criminal or fraudulent act that the lawyer believes is likely to result in imminent death or substantial bodily harm, or substantial injury to the financial interest or property of another (Toomey).’ The best procedure is just to not say anything to anybody about what you know then the facts will not common knowledge and you will not be required to testify in front of a judge or judicial review.
Toomey, K.A. Practice Pointer: An Attorney’s Duty to Maintain Confidentiality of …
Flowers, R.K. The Role of the Defense Attorney: Not Just an Advocate. University of California,
Hastings College of the Law
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