The trauma nurses who took care of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after his arrest have a straightforward explanation. “I don’t get to pick and choose my patients,” one told the Boston Globe.
The three public defenders assigned to Tsarnaev would have been
similarly constrained. But what about the two prominent defense lawyers
who have offered their services? Why choose to represent a man accused
of turning the Boston Marathon finish line into a war zone?
Likewise, how can the lawyers representing Cleveland’s Ariel Castro fight for a man who pleaded guilty
on Friday to 937 counts related to the kidnapping, imprisonment and
rape of three women? And what about the attorneys for the recently
acquitted but still controversial George Zimmerman? Do they really believe he is completely innocent of any wrongdoing in shooting an unarmed teen?
have been a criminal defense lawyer for more than 30 years, first as a
public defender and now as a law professor running a criminal defense
clinic. My clients have included a young man who gunned down his
neighbor in front of her 5-year-old daughter while trying to steal her
car, a man who beat a young woman to death for failing to alert drug
associates that police were coming and a woman who smothered her baby
for no apparent reason. These are the kinds of cases that prompt people
to ask: “How can you represent those people?” All criminal defense
lawyers are asked this; it’s such a part of the criminal defense
experience that it’s simply known as “the question.”