Sly Defence Lawyers

A respected and entirely professional and experienced investigator recently indicated that an (at least) equally experienced and senior prosecutor had suggested to her that defence lawyers cannot be trusted, that they are sly.

This perception is commonly reported as the perception of the general public – yet here it apparently is from a professional within the legal system, who should know better. Such a statement does nothing to preserve the dignity of the profession, nor for the matter is it especially polite.

But it is revealing of the increasingly hostile nature of the states prosecution services. The day when the DPP would utilize its discretion to act impartially, objectively and with dispassionate gravitas appears to have turned to the day when the DPP seeks to be the moral guardian of the state. Implicit in the comment above is an assertion that not only must defence lawyers not be trusted, but that only the prosecutors can be. 

The reasons why such a view might be held probably cut across a number of issues and experiences. But it is an interesting insight into the approach now taken in the context of criminal litigation. Just recently, in another part of the state, a prosecutor took it upon himself to object to a client electing to insist upon his right for a trial by jury. His intended objection was later withdrawn – it having no basis in law or in principle.

At this time of the year, it’s helpful to ponder these experiences to look ahead and see what the future might bring.