The Lawyer’s Relation to Lawlessness [excerpt]
A mooted question among lawyers is
as to the propriety of defending a criminal whom one knows to be
guilty. Personally, I refuse to do it. Yet, I recognize the fact
that many lawyers and conscientious ones at that, will accept employment
of this kind because they believe that it is the duty of a lawyer
to accept employment from every client who needs representation.
It is not so much, however, the mere fact of representation that
brings about discredit to our profession and contempt for law by
the public, but the manner in which that representation is performed.
 Few countries have suffered
more humiliating or disgraceful spectacles than did the United States
when Charles J. Guiteau was defended for the murder of President
Garfield. Every trick of the criminal lawyer, every petty objection,
every plea for delay, every possible dilatory tactic was used by
his counsel. Contrast this with the representation of Czolgosz when
on trial for the murder of President McKinley. His legal rights
were protected, his counsel saw that he had a fair trial, that no
incompetent testimony was introduced; the consequence was that in
an expeditious but decent, orderly manner he was tried and punished
for his crime.
These two cases are as good exemplifications
as I should desire of the point that I am endeavoring to make, viz.,
that the manner of defending a known criminal is productive of respect
or disrespect for law and lawyers according to whether it is the
manner of the lawyer or the pettifogger. If there is any doubt in
the mind of anyone that all possible technicalities need not be
taken advantage of, and that a criminal hearing can be expedited
when necessary, or delayed when desired, let him contrast the course
of the same lawyer when defending for a fee, and when he is appointed
by the court to defend a pauper criminal.