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Monday, March 30, 2009

Republican Criminal Defense Attorneys?

Recently, I came across a humorous query posted on the listserv of the State Appellate Defender Office: is it possible for a criminal defense attorney to be a card-carrying Republican? The short answer is: no way. There are, however, some notable exceptions to this general rule.

While it is largely frowned upon for a Republican attorney to represent persons charged with crimes, exceptions include the lawyer's friends, white-collar criminals, some misdemeanants (depending largely on the relationship of the defendant to the attorney's law firm), business associates, "golf buddies", and in rare instances, a golf buddy's spouse or kid.

An unspoken rule among Republican attorneys is that you should not take more than one criminal client per quarter and fewer than 4 in a fiscal year. If you're unable to persuade your client to plead, then you should definitely not be the lawyer actually trying the case to a jury, as that's really pushing it.

Atonement for the occasional criminal defense can be achieved by maintaining prosecutorial government contracts. Prosecuting civil infractions for municipalities, for example, or serving as a special assistant attorney general, insulates one's credentials from the corrosive effects of defense work.

Some leeway is granted among Republican attorneys for the former county prosecutor. Former prosecutors (who usually lean right) regularly infuriate veterans of the criminal defense bar by sweeping into a county judge's chambers after "switching sides" and walking out of the courtroom with choice appointments, unparalled staff access, and with their party credentials intact.

Opportunities are out there for Republican attorneys to roll with the criminal element and maintain their street cred. As with any area of law, they just have to select the client carefully.


Blogger camilyn said...

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July 26, 2010 at 3:34 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most criminals are not Republicans either.

October 2, 2014 at 11:35 AM 

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