21 September 2008

OJ Simpson

I just watched this program on OJ Simpson on the Australia Network here in Indonesia. It had interviews with all the players in the trial with regards to the defense team and a lot of the news people involved as well. It was a really interesting program.

There were lots of interesting questions posed on race, race relations, police, fabricating evidence, the role of defense counsel in defending guilty clients, and the main one, did he do it?

The two questions that I was most interested in were the last two. As a lawyer who has worked in criminal defense it is an interesting question to ponder with regards to defending guilty clients. There are plenty of strategies for defending a client. I generally ask my clients if they did it. If they say, no, then that is the end of it. I construct the defense strategy based on the assumption that the client is innocent of the charges being alleged.

If a client answers by saying, yes, then the strategy requires careful considerations in terms of ethical obligations. A defense lawyer must not advance an alternative scenario where they know that the scenario is not possible.

It is worth remembering that it is the prosecution in an adversarial system that must prove the case. The defense's main job is to highlight that there is reasonable doubt in the case being made by the prosecution that would render a guilty verdict unjust. It is not the defense's obligation to prove the prosecutions case for them.

Onto the biggest question of them all, did OJ do it?


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