Let’s Take a Show of Hands

Let’s wind up this content-free week with a poll.

Criminal defense attorneys are often asked how they can stand to defend people they know to be guilty.  But to see just how off-target that question is, go and ask them what they believe to be the most difficult case to defend.  Most tend to say their hardest cases are ones where they believe their client to be innocent.  Why?  Because now the stakes are higher.  If the client’s guilty and they lose — even after trying their best and giving it their all — the result is that they made sure the system worked right, and their client was justly convicted.  But if the client is innocent and they lose, then their failure means someone who doesn’t deserve it now has to go to prison.

We’re not sure why this somehow means the case is more difficult, though.  More soul-wracking, certainly.  But it doesn’t make the case harder to win.  It strikes us that those who answer this way are conflating their personal emotional challenges with their actual lawyering challenges.  While one may affect the other, they’re not the same thing.

So let’s ask our readers:  Leaving aside cases where you believe your client to be innocent, and other cases which may be emotionally harder to deal with — what kinds of cases do you find to be the most difficult to fight?  Wiretap cases?  Cases with DNA evidence?  Confessions?  Press cases?  Murders?  Financial crimes?  Something completely different?

Post your answers in the comments.  This could be very interesting.

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