The role of Defense Attorneys
The practices of Defense Attorneys go back to the Roman times. It used to be a hobby in the start but with the boom in science and technology gave birth to industrialization and more complex and intermingled feuds. To resolve such intricate disputes the need for experts grew, especially after 1960’s when a large number of people started to join this profession by choice and started to acclaim its significance. There are three types of Indigent defense attorney systems operating in the United States; Assigned Counsel, Contract Model, and Public Defender.
Assigned Counsels are “assigned” by either judges or coordinator, at fixed rates. Contract Model is when county/state contracts with private attorneys at a fixed annual price or a fixed fee per case. Public Defender is an old system and is also called a “mix system” in which full-time or part-time attorneys only represent indigent defendants.
There is a considerable difference between the three. Assigned Counsel are (and can only be) appointed by the judge or coordinator’s discretion, depending upon the case. If he/she feels that the defendant is indigent and cannot afford to fight the case correctly, then a suitable counsel may be provided for an accurate dispensation of justice. In Contract Model the state or a county does not appoint counsel based on cases. It hires private counsels on contingency bases on its panel of lawyers and pays them the fees on annual bases or per case, whereas Public Defenders are not fixed or permanently obliged to serve as attorneys. They can or cannot be permanent indigent representatives.
Out of all these Contract Model seems to be the most appropriate in the dispensation of justice both regarding services by the attorney and for the welfare of the indigent defendant. Since there are not many law firms that contribute in ‘bonafied’ ‘Pro-bono’ cases. The wealthy law firms are business oriented and work upon the principle of profit and loss. Since the welfare of the people of the state is the primary responsibility of the state itself, the state is bound to take such steps to ensure that justice is being served in the right way to its people. It should hire defense attorneys upon its own cost to represent such individuals who may not be guilty of the crime, but at the same time, they do not have the financial capacity to express themselves in court.
The most prominent ethical dilemma that defence attorneys face is that people assume that they are trying to defend a criminal. But reality of the matter may be different. Legal Maxim states that “A person is innocent until proven guilty” so according to the constitution a person committed of any crime must be given an opportunity to a proper trial in the court. Adequate representation of a person and right to trial is right of every individual and is also enshrined in UNDHR 1948 as a fundamental right of every person.
Defense Attorneys give the practical meaning to this right as they also provide the defendant an opportunity to be heard and defend himself. There are a lot of incidents on a daily basis where innocent people are charged with false accusations and convicted over wrong proofs. So even if a person is detained directly from a crime scene, there still is doubt whether he or she may be directly involved in the crime or not. The application of MENS REA (mental state of a person during the crime) and ACTUS REUS (the action itself) is always determined inside a court, upon sufficient evidence.