BUCHANAN… I’m taking instructions. I look at the evidence.
There are cases that are so horrific and disturbing that attorneys representing accused perpetrators face backlash.
Worried and convinced that they already know all the answers, the public frequently asks the question: “Why would you represent someone like that?”
Some go so far as to accuse lawyers of being greedy and immoral. However, justice seekers remind Jamaicans that their profession dictates that everyone deserves a defense.
Queen’s Counsel Peter Champagnie told the Jamaica Observer that a lawyer is sworn and bound to defend any case he assumes to the best of his ability within the bounds of the law.
“In fact, the canons of the profession go further and say that a lawyer probably shouldn’t refuse to take a retainer…probably shouldn’t refuse to take a case, in other words,” he said. supported.
“Every person is entitled to a defense if it is available to him, and the law, as we have it and practice it, [is] that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Every soul has a right to a defense once it has requested an attorney. It’s the law. We are therefore obliged to do so. As a lawyer, the moment you start playing judge, you get out of what you’re required to do.
CHAMPAGNIE…everyone has the right to a defense .
Champagnie compared the liability of lawyers to that of doctors.
“I always make the analogy and say what if, for example, you have a shootout between a police officer and a shooter, and during the shootout, the shooter shoots the police and the police are killed instantly The shooter is also injured by the police gunfire and he is taken to the hospital and the doctor is told about the shootout between the policemen who is now dead.The doctor is forced to save that person’s life. You have to do it,” he told the Sunday Observer.
He further asked who would act as a moral guardian to determine what case should and should not be taken.
“How are you going to determine that? The moment you start there, you are playing the judge and that is not your role. There are some clients that I represent to the best of my ability and the acquittal is the result. Personally, he’s not someone you have any reservations about, in terms of behavior, etc.
“But if it’s you doing your job, then that’s it. They don’t have to become your friends afterwards. You don’t have to associate with them. But you are doing your job. If you can’t do that or if it’s a problem for you, then move on to conveyancing, real estate law, inheritance, corporate law, banking. We are needed.
Human rights lawyer Isat Buchanan said that when certain details are shared in the media, due to emotions, characters are murdered and people take sides accordingly. But when it comes before a judge, he added, it’s a totally different thing.
“I take instructions. I look at the evidence. The rules of proof are used. Often, the facts that are published in the media are not those before the court. We are only officers of the court, like the prosecutor. Each accused has the right to be represented and is covered by the presumption of innocence. And, ultimately, the judge is the arbiter and the jury is the arbiter,” Buchanan told the Sunday Observer.
“From day one, I would have known, both as a defendant and now as a defense lawyer, that evidence is important. I’ve sat on both sides before and it can be very disheartening when someone says, “I’m innocent,” and is found guilty and has to pick up the pieces of their life. If clients tell me they’re innocent, I have no reason not to believe them. If I look at the evidence and they say otherwise to me, I will advise them not to waste the court’s time, which is my duty.
Meanwhile, lawyer Alexander Shaw has described himself and his peers as creatures of instruction.
SHAW…we have to make sure we respect the constitution .
” It’s the starting point. So, based on the instructions we receive, we must act accordingly. The main role of a lawyer in a trial is to ensure that the person receives a fair trial. If the person says, “Look, I’m innocent,” your role as a lawyer is to make sure the person gets a fair trial. There are times when you will have to assess your moral standing, but based on the canons of ethics, we just can’t turn down a case because we don’t want to,” Shaw told the Sunday Observer.
“We need to have good reasons to refuse the case because a court can force you to stay in a case if you decide you don’t want to. The court can tell you to take on a case if people refuse to take the case because of the notoriety of the incident or the person involved,” he continued.
Sometimes, Shaw added, it is believed that the criminal is caught, when this is not the case.
“It happens again and again. This is why the lawyer has a very delicate job trying to balance the opinions of the public and those of his client. Your main duty is to your client because sometimes the things that you are exposed to, as that person’s lawyer, the public wouldn’t even know about.
And that’s why, he said, “We have to make sure that we respect the constitution, which is that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Not that you are innocent… but presumed innocent. We therefore cannot approach it to say that the man is really guilty.
Shaw told the Sunday Observer that too often members of the public form opinions and make judgments without knowing the facts.
“Most of the time you hear one side of the story. A story has three sides. In cases where the evidence is so overwhelming and staring you in the eye, the lawyers will have to tell the person that it is better for them to take a certain course because there is no way for them to say that they is innocent. But when in doubt, you must follow your instructions, whatever your point of view,” he said.
“Until someone you know or love is in that situation, you’ll never understand. There are times when what we hear in the public isn’t the truth,” Shaw said.