Philosophy of Law Essay

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Philosophy of Law

Given the information in this case, the lawyer should reveal the information, minus the name of his client, to the District Attorney. It really should not matter whether the D.A. would be willing to agree to forego prosecution for the other rape cases or not, and that should not be a condition of providing the D.A. with the information. The moral and ethical reasons behind this are many, but there are two basic issues here, and both of them have to be addressed, along with their specific moral and ethical issues, to really understand everything that is taking place with this particular scenario.

First, there is one man who has gotten away with many more crimes than he is being punished for even though he will be going to prison for a long period of time on the one conviction he has - provided that his appeal is not successful. Second, there is an innocent man who was wrongly convicted and who is doing time in prison when he should be having a 'normal' life, free of persecution and punishment for something that he honestly did not do. This man may or may not have lost faith in the system that convicted him, but his life has been forever changed by this experience and there is no way to correct that.

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However, that does not mean that a wrongly convicted man should have to remain in prison when a person has information which could set him free. It seems surprising that there was no DNA evidence for either one of these cases, but since that is not discussed here, it will not be a subject for discussion. At issue here are only the punishment of an innocent man and the truth behind why he is in there - relating to the self-confessed guilt of another man. Both of these issues have to be dealt with here.

The Lawyer's Client

Essay on Philosophy of Law Given the Information in Assignment

First to discuss is the actual client of the lawyer, the individual who was convicted of a rape and whose case is on appeal at the current time. He clearly admitted the past rapes to his lawyer, but they might not be inadmissible as evidence in his own case, depending on the way that they were acquired. However, the lawyer can give the information that he gave to him, including much of the detail that be provided and minus his name, to the D.A. In order to have the case reinvestigated. It is possible, by doing this, that new evidence from the old crimes will be able to point to the lawyer's current client and that client will be charged with the other rapes. It is also possible that the D.A. will be able to locate a reason to prosecute the lawyer's client for the older rapes on the basis of this new information.

While the lawyer has a duty to try to protect his client, and he was supposed to work with his client at trial so that the client could be found innocent of the charges, the client has already been convicted. People could argue that the lawyer should not reveal what was told to him by the client, but this is why the client's name would be withheld. This is not so much about punishing the guilty party any further - although that is certainly a consideration - but about getting justice for an innocent man. It is certainly a conundrum, however, because there is more than one factor at work when it comes to the client. Lawyers are often thought to be unethical people because they defend client who they sometimes know are guilty and are generally not good people. Individuals who are quick to judge them forget that this is their job, and it is what they are trained and paid to do. While it might not always be the most pleasant thing to do, it comes with the territory.

Because lawyers must do this, there can be a conflict when they are supposed to do right by their client but they know that their client has done something wrong. Usually, however, this may present a moral dilemma based on the attorney's sense of right and wrong, but it does not really present an ethical dilemma. These are not the same things, although many people assume that they are. A moral dilemma involves the attorney representing someone who is clearly guilty and trying to show that the person is innocent. If the attorney is successful, the guilty party will go free, and that can be morally upsetting. An ethical dilemma, however, is similar to the one faced by the attorney in this case. He is supposed to be protecting and fighting for his client, but he now has information that can likely allow a wrongly-convicted man to be set free. He must decide what to do in this case.

Not every lawyer would make the same choice, but in this case it seems as though the lawyer should choose to try to protect his own client (withhold the name, try for a no-prosecution agreement from the D.A.) while giving enough information to the D.A.'s office that the case can be reinvestigated and the innocent man who is already in prison can be set free. This can be a delicate and complex process and it does not always succeed, but that does not mean that it should not be attempted. It may make the lawyer's client angry with the lawyer, of course, and that can cause friction where the appeals process is concerned.

The client may also decide to fire the lawyer and get another one, but the lawyer has a duty to be ethical, and letting an innocent man stay in jail for a very long time when a person has information that could free that person would be unethical. Morally, the lawyer would also likely have a difficult time knowing that he could have done something about an innocent man's imprisonment but yet chose not to do so. It is never an easy decision, but it is something that has to be done for the good of the wrongly accused.

The Wrongly Accused

The person who has been wrongly accused of the past rapes was convicted on evidence that was largely circumstantial, like the witnesses saying they believed him to be the person who was guilty of the crime. That does not mean, however, that he was actually the person who committed the rapes. Some people look very similar to one another, and if a person lets ten people see the same scene, there will be ten different interpretations of it. Because the lawyer's client looks so much like the wrongly-convicted man, it is not surprising that the witnesses believed him to be the person that they saw. This is a common error that is often made when witness identification is used to convict someone. It is actually surprising that this was enough to convict the man, but it will make it that much easier to have his conviction overturned, since there was no DNA or other evidence to link him to the crime.

The lawyer who is not sure if he wants to tell the D.A. what he found out from his client should stop and give some thought to the wrongly-accused man who is sitting in jail. This is a man whose only crime is looking similar to someone who is not a nice person; someone who committed a series of crimes that he should not have committed. This man has not done anything wrong, at least not in this case. Whether he has a criminal record is not relevant. Even if he committed the same kind of crime in the past, it is not relevant. What is relevant here is that the wrongly-accused man did not commit this crime, and the lawyer knows it because his client has just told him that he committed the crimes himself. He would likely not want a person to sit in jail for no reason, and that man had a life before he was convicted of a series of crimes that he did not commit.

It seems rather cruel to leave an innocent man sitting in prison when one has the ability to have him released. This is also an ethical and moral dilemma for the lawyer. Morally, the lawyer has a double problem - he feels as though he has a requirement to be fair and just to his client. He also, however, does not want to leave an innocent man in prison. With this being the case, the lawyer struggles with what is right, and what his definition of 'right' actually is. Ethically, this is also an issue, because he has a lot of training in the law and in what he should and should not be doing where his client is concerned. When he agreed to represent his client, he agreed to do everything he could to represent that client… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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