Ethical Duties of Legal Counsel Essay

Ethical Duties of Legal Counsel Essay

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Ethical Duties of Legal Counsel

The U.S. criminal justice system is considered to be an adversarial system consisting of two sides, the prosecution and defense. It is believed that both sides enter the trial on equal grounds and present evidence to represent and help support their case. However, throughout the proceedings both the prosecution and defense have two very different ethical roles, responsibilities and duties, which tends to cast doubt on both sides remaining equal.

The defense’s role is to make the prosecution prove its case with sensible arguments, real evidence, and steadfast testimony; point out facts in which the State has failed to establish guilt; ensure the defendant receives a fair trial and his or her rights are not violated. Even if the defense is aware that his or her client is guilty of a crime he or she must continue to fairly represent the accused and attempt to rebut the prosecutions case in an attempt to prove innocence. In the recent fictional blockbuster film, The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew Mcconaughey as a high paid defense attorney, story writers create an ethical dilemma for Mcconaughey when he discovers evidence and a receives a confession that his current client, whom he is defending on rape charges, is not only guilty of rape but is also responsible for a murder that sent one of his former clients to prison. Mcconaughey is now faced with a major ethical predicament when he discovers his former client is an innocent man incarcerated for the wrongdoing of his current client and due to attorney-client privileges is on the verge of acquittal. This is a prime example of how the defenses role as an advocate can be contradictory to professional obligations that must be upheld such as, be...


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The Lincoln Lawyer. Dir. Brad Furman. Perf. Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei and Ryan Phillippe. Lionsgate Film, 2011. Film.

Meagher, Williams R. "A Critique of Lawyers’ Ethics in an Adversary System." Fordham Urban Law Journal 3rd ser. 4.2 (1975): 289-301. Berkley Electronic Press. Web. 7 Aug. 2011. .

Setrakian, Lara. "Former Duke Prosecutor Nifong Disbarred - ABC News." ABC News Law & Justice Unit. ABC News, 16 June 2007. Web. 07 Aug. 2011. .

Roberson, Cliff, Harvey Wallace, and Gilbert B. Stuckey. Procedures in the Justice System. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2010. Print.

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