The 2016 presidential campaign
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton was criticized for an interview in which she laughingly described how she managed to get a violent defendant released despite knowing he was guilty. As a defense attorney, her duty required her best efforts at defending her client, yet often doing so will conflict with the attorney’s personal ethics. Should defense attorneys, when appointed by the court to represent indigent defendants, be required to always act in the best interest of the client, even if doing so conflicts with his or her ethical system?
When ruling on matters of evidence, and when imposing a sentence, judges are expected to apply the law as written. Are judges in criminal cases bound by ethics to adhere to the law, regardless of their personal views on a case? Use the issue of minimum mandatory sentencing as a basis for discussion.
|Subject||Law and governance||Pages||3||Style||APA|
Defense Attorneys Appointed by the Court to Represent Indigent Defendants Should Always Act in the Best Interest of the Client
In criminal justice systems, judges are always called upon to follow and to apply the law as written irrespective of the client’s status. This applies to the defense attorneys who are expected to act in the best interest of the client. This is because professionalism and accountability are always required to guide their decisions and when especially the defense attorneys don’t act in the best interest of the client, they are called to account (Braswell et al., 2019). Indigent defendants have a constitutional right to be represented in their best interest by the defense attorneys (Hanlon, 2010). The defense attorneys are supposed to act in line with the demands of the court rules, and professional conduct; the law cannot be applied selectively and unequal measures (Lucas, 2012). The rules of professional conduct define the rights of the indigent defendant vis-à-vis defense attorneys very clearly; their professional responsibility should be held with reasonable diligence when it comes to making decisions that conflict with their ethical systems (Green, 2003). The client should take precedence hence the defense attorneys should accede to the client’s defense and advice accordingly on when to plead guilty or wave a constitutional right in case of trial.
Judges in Criminal Cases are Bound by Ethics to Adhere to the Law, Regardless of their Personal Views on the Case
The absence of either actual or perceived judicial integrity in criminal justice systems poses a great threat to confidence in the rule of law. Keeping judicial integrity and ensuring justice is maintained in the administration of law is a core obligation of judges. Judges are bound by the oath of office they take and by the code of ethics and professional conduct to adhere to the law and to act without involving personal, political, or ideological influence on the case (Pritchett, 2014). This means they ought to uphold and promote the ethical idea of integrity, impartiality, independence and avoid personal or external impropriety. This is so because any judge that behaves contrary to the expectations of the code of ethics or involves a personal interest in the case is liable to professional discipline (Pollock, 2019). . Furthermore, the party which feels was denied justice or personal interest was involved from the side of the judge can file a formal grievance against such judge (Rebecca K. McDowell, 2018)
Braswell, Michael C., McCarthy, Belinda R., and Bernard J. McCarthy (2019). Justice, crime, and ethics. (10th ed.) Routledge. ISBN: 9780367196363.
Green, B. A. (2003). Criminal neglect: Indigent defense from a legal ethics perspective. Emory LJ, 52, 1169.
Hanlon, S. F. (2010). State constitutional challenges to indigent defense systems. Mo. L. Rev., 75, 751.
Lucas, L. S. (2012). Reclaiming Equality to Reframe Indigent Defense Reform. Minn. L. Rev., 97, 1197.
Pollock, J. M. (2019). Ethical dilemmas and decisions in criminal justice (10th ed.). Cengage. ISBN: 9781337558495
Pritchett, C. H. (2014). The Roosevelt Court: A study in judicial politics and values, 1937-1947 (Vol. 21). Quid Pro Books.
Rebecca K. McDowell, J.D (2018). What to Do When a Judge Is Unfair. Retrieved on April 3, 2021,