Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Michael Scott Weiss
Defense attorneys for the accused are an important feature of the adversary criminal trial. Because cases are complex, fairness requires the presence of a legal advocate for a defendant faced with an accusation by the state—which, after all, employs its own attorney as a prosecutor. Professional responsibility rules expect defense attorneys, especially in the United States, to work diligently in representing the client's interests: seeking acquittals at trial by probing the government's case, confronting prosecutors with evidence, protecting defendants' rights by challenging government investigations and exposing constitutional violations, and even standing up to judicial excess when such action is needed. In the end, defense attorneys also provide the adversary process a significant portion of its theoretical legitimacy; they increase the chance that both sides to the conflict present their best arguments and that outcomes are legally justifiable. The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees that in “all criminal ...