Publication information

American Law Review
Source type: journal
Document type: article
Document title: “The Lawyer’s Relation to Lawlessness”
Author(s): Bell, Percy
Date of publication: March-April 1914
Volume number: 48
Issue number: 2
Pagination: 209-24 (excerpt below includes only pages 214-15)

Bell, Percy. “The Lawyer’s Relation to Lawlessness.” American Law Review Mar.-Apr. 1914 v48n2: pp. 209-24.
Leon Czolgosz (trial: compared with Guiteau trial).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; James A. Garfield; Charles J. Guiteau; William McKinley.
About the author (p. 224): Greenville, Miss.

The Lawyer’s Relation to Lawlessness

     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. [214][215] 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.