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NCJ Number: 160218 Find in a Library
Title: Practice of Law as a Con Game (From Criminal Justice in America: Theory, Practice, and Policy, P 193-212, 1996, Barry W Hancock and Paul M Sharp, eds. -- See NCJ-160206)
Author(s): A S Blumberg
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 20
Sponsoring Agency: Prentice-Hall, Inc
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Sale Source: Prentice-Hall, Inc
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
United States of America
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Based upon the author's observations during many years of legal practice in the criminal courts of a large metropolitan area, this chapter discusses the role of defense counsel in relation to the client and the court bureaucracy.
Abstract: The key to understanding the role of defense counsel in a criminal case is found in the fixing of the fee to be charged and its collection. The problem of fixing and collecting the fee influences the criminal court process itself and not just the relationship of the attorney to the client. In essence, a lawyer- client "confidence game" is played. Defense lawyers condition clients to recognize that there is a connection between fee payment and the zealous exercise of professional expertise, secret knowledge, and organizational "connections" on their behalf. Lawyers, therefore, seek to keep their clients in a proper state of tension and to arouse in them the precise edge of anxiety that is calculated to encourage prompt fee payment. By keeping the client's anxieties aroused to the proper pitch and establishing a seemingly causal relationship between a requested fee and the accused's ultimate extrication from his/her difficulties, the lawyer will have established the necessary preliminary groundwork to ensure a minimum of haggling over the fee and its eventual payment. The defense attorney not only acts to ensure the client's acceptance and payment of the fee, but also to serve the court bureaucracy while appearing to act in the best interests of the client. In the role of "double agent," the defense attorney aims to terminate the litigation with a minimum of expense and damage to both court and client interests. The method for achieving this is plea bargaining. Court personnel like plea bargaining because it saves the cost and time for a trial while ensuring a conviction, albeit for less than the initial charge, and the client is relieved of the harsh sentence attached to the initial charge. Overall, defense attorneys act to serve their own interests by manipulating the client to accept and pay the fee and by complying with the bureaucratic goals of the court organization with which they must maintain a satisfactory ongoing interaction if they are to receive favorable treatment in future cases. 3 tables, 28 notes, discussion questions, and suggested student applications of the chapter material
Main Term(s): Court personnel attitudes
Index Term(s): Attorney client relations; Court case flow management; Plea negotiations
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