Saturday, June 20, 2009

Selling out the client - Part II

Over at Arbitrary and Capricious today, there's this story from Washington State. It seems that Micah W. Hasselstrom tried to escape from Spokane Municipal Court. His public defender and two other PDs, with the able assistance of a deputy sheriff, tackled him. Yes, that's right. He was, in effect, arrested by his lawyer and two other public defenders.

Apparently there's a debate in Spokane criminal defense circles about what the right response was. Should his lawyer have tackled him to prevent him from making a mistake that would have meant more charges and greater sentences or letting him screw up his life further.

I'm not part of the Washington criminal defense bar and, therefore, not privy to those discussions, but isn't the real point that when we take on the role of law enforcement we can no longer represent out clients? There are times when I'll encourage my client to turn himself in. I may even go along as he does so. But I'm not going to arrest him. I may not aid him in new crimes, but I sure don't have to go out of my way to become part of law enforcement.

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