Abbe Smith, a law professor at Georgetown University, asks us a timeless
question. Why would some private criminal defense lawyers want to represent
infamous doers of crime, like Ariel Castro, who was accused (and recently
sentenced to life plus 1,000 years) of kidnapping three women,
raping them, and keeping them prisoners in his home for ten years? What is the
It’s not easy to explain, but Smith provides a decent explanation
in her commentary recently published by the Washington Post.
Here’s a variant to the timeless question: How can you represent
those people? This is a question often brought to bear by members of the
general public. Indeed, some lawyers prefer not to handle certain types
of criminal cases.
Even Smith, when she says she likes the clients she has represented, doesn’t
mean “those who commit acts of such depravity that it’s painful
to read news stories about them.” Rather: “I mean the vast
majority of my clients, who, for a variety of reasons, have committed
crimes but who are not evil.”
does Smith get around to explaining why a defense lawyer would defend a Castro?
It’s when she takes herself out of the picture and looks at other
lawyers defending their clients, as well as what happens to someone vilified
for something they’re accused of doing.
One, Smith writes that even Castro’s lawyers said that their client
wasn’t a monster. In other words, they found the humanity in him.
Two, who else will stand up for the accused when everyone else is calling