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A Defense of Defense Attorneys

A Defense of Defense Attorneys

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Published by David Swenton

A piece I wrote for my blog in response to criticism of Jerry Sandusky's defense team.

A piece I wrote for my blog in response to criticism of Jerry Sandusky's defense team.

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Published by: David Swenton on Dec 08, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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09/17/2013

 
DavidSwenton
Introduction
TheverdictinJerrySandusky’ssexabusetrialwasreachedanddeliveredyesterday,and–muchtothepublic’scollectiverelief–thejuryfoundhimguiltyon45of48counts.TheevidenceagainstSanduskywasoverwhelming,andanyresultotherthanaconvictionwouldhavesurelycausedwidespreadoutrageandrioting.Thankfully,thiswasnotthecase.Afterhearingthenewsofthejury’sdecision,Ifeltsatisfiedthatjusticehadbeenserved.AndIfiguredthatwouldbetheextentofmyreactiontothiswholecase–internalsatisfactionthatourjusticesystemworked,andnothingmore.However,adishearteningfeelingstruckmewhenIbeganreadingtweetsandFacebookpostsbashingtheattorneysinchargeofdefendingMr.Sandusky.SohereIsit,readytoexplainwhythedefenseattorney-bashersneedtotoneitdownafewnotches.
WhyWeHaveDefenseAttorneys
Defenseattorneysareanecessary(albeitunpopular)partofthecriminaljusticesystemintheUnitedStates.TheSixthAmendmenttotheConstitutionsays:“Inallcriminalprosecutions,theaccusedshallenjoytheright…tohavetheAssistanceofCounselforhisdefence.”Criminaldefenseisessentialtomaintainingafairjusticesystem,especiallywhentheaccusedmaintainshisinnocence.Defenseattorneysmustworkbasedonthepleathattheirclient(theaccused)enters.InJerrySandusky’scase,hemaintainedhisinnocencethroughouttheinvestigationandsubsequenttrial.Thisisallhisattorneyshadtoworkoffof–itwastheirjobtocreatereasonabledoubt,despitewhattheymayhavepersonallybelievedabouttheirclient’sinnocence.IfMr.Sanduskypleadnotguilty,thenitwastheirdutytodefendhim–andtheydidjustthat.Inaddition,wrongfulconvictionsarealltoocommoninourcriminaljusticesystem,andgooddefenseattorneyscanhelppreventwrongfulconvictions.Youreallywanttolambastesomeonewhocouldbetheonlythingkeepinganinnocentpersonoutofalifeinprison–orworse,theexecutionchamber?
TheRoleoftheDefense
IncriminalcourtsinUnitedStates,eachparty–theprosecutionandthedefense–hasaspecificdutytheymustperformtowinthecase.Itistheprosecution’sdutytoprove(beyondareasonabledoubt)thatthedefendantisguiltyofthecrimeofwhichtheyareaccused.Ofcourse,theyusewitnesstestimony,physicalevidence,andtheliketoaccomplishtheirultimategoalofconviction.Incriminalproceedings,theburdenofproof

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