Do defense lawyers distort the truth?

While it's true that defense lawyers occasionally distort the truth, it's also true that prosecutors are equally guilty of sometimes misrepresenting the truth. Criminal defense lawyers are not supposed to put witnesses on the stand who they know they are going to commit perjury; of course, many criminal defense lawyers claim that they are incapable of really knowing anything. They can't hide the murder weapon in the drawers of their desks, although they don't have to pick it up. Apart from that, they are quite free to obstruct the search for truth in any way they can, within the rules of evidence.

Finally, there is the question of the right of the accused. When the power of the state is against you and your freedom is at stake, do you have the right to have someone on your side who fights for you, argues for you, even distorts facts, distorts evidence, and attacks the truth for you? What are the limits of a lawyer's role as a lay confessor? Your lawyer can use your testimony to build a more effective defense if you provide all the relevant facts. Therefore, a defense attorney faces an apparent dilemma when he is required to choose between truth and the client's interest, but morally he is required to promote both. It allows the defense attorney to be fully informed and also encourages the layperson to seek legal representation and advice.

He has argued that if a client cannot be dissuaded from committing perjury, the lawyer should go ahead and obtain the false testimony and rely on it in the final argument. Rule 3.4 (e) provides that a lawyer may not, at trial, refer to any matter that the lawyer does not reasonably believe to be relevant or that is supported by admissible evidence. If a client is going to lie from one end of his testimony to the other, the lawyer must keep him off the stand. The adversarial system encourages zealous and independent defense, which is necessary to maintain the honesty of the rest of the criminal justice system.

The only person who did not undertake to tell the truth, to seek the truth, let alone be obliged by it, is the defense lawyer. A lawyer should not knowingly offer evidence that the lawyer knows is false, regardless of the source of that evidence. Withdrawal may also involve other ethical principles, for example, if the case is so close to trial that an attorney cannot ethically withdraw without jeopardizing the client's case. This encourages a “win at all costs” mentality on the part of defense lawyers, which, in turn, leads lawyers to pervert the truth.

A large proportion of criminal defense lawyers seek to tell their clients everything they know (including, but not limited to, the good, the bad, and the ugly), because they can't defend themselves against what they don't know. A lawyer's responsibilities as a client representative, legal system officer, and public citizen are often harmonious. By monitoring and analyzing the procedures used against the defendant in a criminal case, the defense attorney makes the system more credible and more deserving of respect. Critics of the defense bar association accuse that when a defendant is guilty, lawyers do everything in their power to prevent the truth from being known.