A famous question to be asked to a lawyer: if someone comes to you, confess his guilt for an offense, and ask you to be his lawyer to defend him, what would you do? Will you accept his case, when he already himself confessed guilty?
Last week I had my Criminal Procedure Code’s class. The class was quite interesting and the ambiance was quite fun. I don’t want to talk about the class here because that is not the point. So after about half of the period, the lecturer, Mr B gave us a break for about 10 minutes. Me and my mates went out of the class for some refreshment. While we were conversing in the gents, Mr B came in. Then, he lighted his cigarette and joined our conversation after answering his nature call. So the story begin.
One of my mates, F, asked him about the question above. Oh, Mr B is actually a lawyer from Alor Setar. He is just teaching us for part time being. His answer is simple, so simple that I even couldn’t imagine it to be that way.
“You know your client is guilty as he himself had already confessed to you. But now, what would you do? Do you want to reject the case as to uphold your integrity? First, you have to bear in mind that you a lawyer. So it is kind of your job to fight the case according to the law. Now, take the case, bring it to the proceeding. But first, remind your client that you are not promising anything except only for your effort to try your best. If the trial proceeding strongly give you the sense that your client will most probably convicted because of the evidence or whatsoever, what you do is, to try to consult with the prosecutor whether there is any chance that the sanction would be mitigated, either by way of confession to the court of his guilt or any excuse that you could think of. That is your job. You know that you have less chance of winning the case, try to work on the lesser punishment for your clients. If you still struggling to fight the case, to prove that your client is innocent, that would be a waste. I mean, why would you try to prove a convict innocent? Yes, you as lawyer would know that he will be convicted at the end for sure based on the evidence. This is where your integrity take role.
However, on the other hand, if during the proceeding, you could sense that you are getting high chance of winning, what would you do? Would you still continue with the case? As you know you are defending someone guilty here as he himself confessed to you. For me, go on with the case. Help him laa.. People make mistake. Give him a chance. Advice him for not committing the offense again. Once he is acquitted and saved, he will be so grateful that most probably after this he would never commit it again. And for you, to comfort your ambiguity, always bear in mind that, you are dealing with the man made law here. In the eyes of religion, yes he is guilty as Allah is Maha Mengetahui. No need for bullshitting in the court. He will pay for his deed sooner or later for sure. But in the eyes of law, he is innocent as the propound maxim in law ‘no one is guilty unless proven otherwise’. What will he face in the afterlife is his business with God. You are just doing your job here. You conduct the case accordingly to the law, whatever happen later is not your concern. If you lose, your client being convicted, well, poor him, or I would say, that is what he deserved for his crime. But if you win, well, congratulation!”
That was his answer for the question. For sure, this is not an accurate and exact word from him. I just make it more understandable if any of you layman here are reading this :-p
For me, I don’t know what’s to say against this. There is truth in his word but sometimes I feel like something missing there. I couldn’t say I am totally agree with him but I got to admit that he has a point there. What do YOU think?