Friday, April 19, 2013

JOHN ADAMS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE, AND TODAY.

The topic of conversation on the blog comments recently, in light of the tragic events in Boston, was whether you-as a criminal defense attorney- could represent a terrorist? 

The answer is simple. Of course. 
And there is precedent for taking on a terrorist as a client. 

March 5, 1770: British troops have been occupying Boston since 1768 to put down resistance to King George's police of taxation of the colonies. On a cold and snowy evening a small group of citizens that had been taunting a British sentry grew into an angry mob of a few hundred. British Captain Thomas Peterson led a group of British soldiers to rescue the sentry. The mob threw rocks, the British responded with musket fire. Five civilians died in what became to be known as the Boston Massacre. 

Captain Peterson and his soldiers were indicted for murder. There was wide spread anti-British sentiment in Boston and no lawyer would take the case for the soldiers. To represent the enemy was seen as a sure fire way to end a legal career. 

Then John Adams- a young Boston attorney who had been an outspoken critic of the British occupation- stepped forward to defend the enemy soldiers. 

The trial was held and Captain Peterson and six of his men were acquitted. Two others were convicted of the lesser offense of manslaughter. 

Adams defense was a masterpiece. His peroration is still quoted today:
 "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

His defense of the burden of proof and innocence is equally brilliant and famous: 


"It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished.
But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, "whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection," and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever."



Adams, who later became the second president of the United States wrote about the incident:
"The part I took in defense of captain Preston and the soldiers, procured me anxiety, and obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country. Judgment of death against those soldiers would have been as foul a stain upon this country as the executions of the Quakers or witches, anciently.”

Adams was criticized at the time he took the case. He was publicly scorned by his friends and neighbors. But he took his duty as an attorney seriously. 

So would we represent a terrorist and risk "obloquy?"

Although Adams was paid 18 guineas, the value of a pair of shoes at the time, we think he set a pretty good example. 

See You In Court. 







31 comments:

Fake Trialmaster said...

I charge 18 guineas to handle a traffic ticket. Gold guineas only.

CAPTAIN said...


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

Captain Preston ....

Of course I would represent him. And anyone who wouldn't should tear up their bar card.

The rule of law is what separates us from Checnya.

I did handle a high profile case in the past where the defendant was extremely unpopular. I did the job I was trained to do.

Our profession is regularly called onto represent the extremely unpopular defendant. The cop killer. The child rapist. If we don't accept the job, who will. And if no one does, then the entire system breaks down.

Cap Out .....




Anonymous said...

Rump- civil lawyer here. Sent to Boston with a senior associate to handle a matter, Of course we've been trapped since this mess began, although we can leave now. Hotel at Copley square was swamped and they threw the senior assoc out of her room and into mine yesterday as the city shut down. She is in her late 30's and going through a divorce. She always has a snarl on her fact but through her frumpy Anne Klein suits I could always see a rockin body. Lets just say that after a few bloody mary's at breakfast yesterday I convinced her to go back to the room where I spent the afternoon wipin that snarl off her face.

Every tragedy has a silver lining.

Anonymous said...

6:11 am: your comment is contemptable on so many levels - congrats, you win the douchebag of the year award.

Anonymous said...

i should have put my question different... would you represent a muslim terrorist who attacked or planned to attack our country. like a 911 conspirator.

Anonymous said...

Actually as Jack Nicholson said in a Few Good Men, in different words, there is nothing like banging your supervisor.

Anonymous said...

8:53, one woman wouldn't say to another what Jack Nicholson said about banging your supervisor. Why not? There's no erotic power exchange, because the woman in that situation has no power to exchange. That's why 6:11 is just a douchebag.

Civil partner said...

As a guy in the legal corporate world I have no worries about hitting on a supervisor or responding to a supervisor who flirts with me. But the moment a subordinate woman like a younger associate or a staff member flirts with me - I run. Because no dalliance is worth getting fired for, or getting sued for. And believe me, there are woman who intentionally seek relationships with superiors so they can then use that relationship in the future as a lever to obtain promotions or the relationship will be revealed and your career- even if you're single- will be destroyed.

So F your way up, not down, I always say.

Anonymous said...

6:11 is a fucking idiot.

Every tragedy has a silver lining. Tell that to the parents who lost their kids to the Sandy Hook shooting or to the friends and family who lost their loved ones during the Boston Marathon including the ones who were injured.

Anonymous said...

When did the US Govt get the power to suspend the Bill of Rights?

The Crimes happened here in the USA.
The perps were citizens or residents here in the USA.
They were caught & arrested here in the USA.
But they are declared Enemy Combatants by the A.G. so the Bill of Rights is out the window?

Jefferson warned us about not
"giving up Liberty for the sake of Security"

Even the scum of the earth deserve equal protection and due process.
Not Torture, enhanced questioning, No Attys...
Please explain how or where I am mistaken..
Yes I know they are pieces of Sh*t, Does the Bill of Rights have a POS exception?
DS

Anonymous said...

HR

Yes I know, I will get lots of crap over the post. But I am a true believer in the Greatness of OUR Constitutional Democracy. Even the Scum of the Earth are protected under the Constitution. If they can except Terrorists, who is next, First , 1st degree murders, than all murders, them home invasions then robberies.. What about the WAR on Drugs..

DS

CAPTAIN said...


Congrats 6:11. You are both a fucking idiot and you won the douche bag of the year award. All in a days work for you civil guys.

Cap Out ....

Anonymous said...

I'd represent the terrorist but I certainly wouldn't represent the 6:11 idiot.

Anonymous said...

Geeze I thought everyone would be hi-fiving me for banging the uptight prissy senior associate and Instead I am called worse than a terrorist. Wow. Haters.

Anonymous said...

PS
I agree those guys are LIKELY Pieces of Sh*t.
It don't matter to Equal Justice and Due Process n the Presumption of Innocence.
Remember the Central Park 5 or the hundreds convicted that were Truly Innocent
DS

CAPTAIN said...


Post of the year 1:55 PM.

Go away 6:11 AM/ 2:25 PM.

Cap Out ...

Neil Simon said...

777 they will call you
Towards heaven heaven heaven you will soar
Only g-d can make a tree I grant you
But only man can make a 40th floor.

Felix Unger, Ode to a Sky scrapper
The Odd Couple.

Anonymous said...

Happy 420! Stop bickering and be happy!

Anonymous said...

The government's shameful use of the New York v. Quarles public safety exception to Miranda needs to be examined. It has now been almost 48 hours since the second suspect's arrest and yet no complaint has been filed in Federal Court which would mandate the appointment of counsel. The Federal Public Defender is trying to assert representation and to this time, the FBI refuses to recognize them.

This is an American citizen, who allegegly committed a heinous crime on American soil, but nonetheless must be afforded all of the constitutional rights of any other person held in custody.

The government's attempt to put the cart before the horse, by saying we must first interrogate him to decide if he is an enemy combatant, where there is no evidence that he is, and then we will decide what rights he has or does not have, is disingenuous at best.

What appears to be mountains of evidence of his guilt should ameliorate against such extreme measures. The federal district courts have done a fabulous job dealing with cases involving domestic terrorism and there is no basis to diminish our confidence in that process now.

To be sure, we all abhor the violence and the cold blooded nature of these crimes, but we must not forget who we are and for what we stand. Let's get on with it and show the world of what we are made and our faith in our free and open society to deal with these issues.

JDS

Anonymous said...

Any defense lawyer who would not take this kid's case if asked, turn in your bar card.

Anonymous said...

I'd call the shumie on this def. unpronouncable name. Blew up a beloved event. Killed a kid and a cop?
Has as much chance getting out of prison as a peter adrien case had of being upheld on appeal. Almost none.

Anonymous said...

I'm in a legal related job and I am an ex-college athlete. My boss who is unhappy at home comes by my apt almost every sunday for a booty call. She is decent looking - perhaps a 7 - below the models I date for fun- but it is sure worth it. I am the highest paid among the staff at my level and I never get the crappy work. Plus i get laid. Not a bad arrangment.

Anonymous said...

What are the do's and don'ts of carb stacking???

Anonymous said...

What would be considered the first and second German Reichs ?

Rumpole said...

The Holy Roman Empire circa 962- was the first Reich and the period before and through Bismark - 1871-1918 and the end of wwI was considered the second Reich

Anonymous said...

Really need help carb cycling.

Anonymous said...

Fake Alex Michaels rocking Twitter today @draculawyer:
"best lawyer used to be called F Lee Bailey. Now called F U Michaels" Priceless.
And a promise to drive the asa trying a case against him this week into retirement by Friday.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of turning in your Bar card: any lawyer who has ever responded with anger at any comment about a lawyer having sex with someone - you know, those comments that tell a story about some 22 year old hottie or similar to the one about the associate above - none of them are true. Not one of them.

They are all written for your reaction. The people writing those comments are doing it for one reason - to see if anyone is dumb enough to believe it. So congratulations, idiots.

"Unabridged American Minority" said...

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

Thomas Paine

Anonymous said...

So many people don’t realize that these terrorists win not just when they kill and maim, but when they bully us into abandoning the principles of individual liberty, due process, and fair trials that define us. Think about it, if this kids isn’t afforded Constitutional protections, “they” (whomever they are) have terrorized us enough for us to alter our core principles. Isn’t that exactly what they want?

Anonymous said...

She can defend him all she wants.
Once in jail, he's still gonna get raped and beaten every day and the cops will look the other way. I hope he enjoyed having a butthole that could function normally. Eventually he'll wise up and stick something sharp in his neck so he bleeds to death. Then the ghosts of everyone he killed will torment his dying soul for an eternity. :)