When a lawyer believes that representing a client is something that he or she cannot do effectively, either because of a deep personal bias against the client, another conflict of interest, a reasonable belief that the client is untrustworthy or unmanageable, or some other good reason, his duty is to withdraw from the representation. Believing or even knowing that the client is guilty is not a good reason. Guilty clients have rights, the system demands a competent defense, and sometimes—rarely, but it happens—a lawyer can be surprised to find out that his “guilty” client isn’t guilty after all.
How does the nation’s highest ranking lawyer forget what a lawyer’s job is? If I had to guess, I would say it could happen when the U.S. Attorney general in question is thinking about politics more that the law, and has been under such continuous fire from the public and the media for repeated bungles that he no longer knows who he’s working for.
But that would just be speculation on my part.
We know for certain, however, that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a statement announcing that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-conspirators would be tried by a military tribunal at Guantanamo, and not in civilian trials in the U.S. as the Obama Administration had preferred. In the middle of this statement, Holder says, Continue reading