Ethics and Professional Responsibility
The defense lawyer has several basic duties to his client and his role as a defense lawyer.
- The defense lawyer serves as the defendant's counselor and advocate and should strive to render effective, quality, representation.
- The defense lawyer should seek to reform and improve the administration of criminal justice and seek to correct inadequacies or injustices in substantive or procedural law.
- The defense lawyer should act with reasonable diligence and promptness when representing the defendant.
- The defense lawyers should maintain as confidential all communications with the client.
- The defense lawyer should conduct a prompt investigation into the facts relevant to the case and the penalty in the event of conviction, including securing information in the possession of the prosecution and law enforcement authorities.
The defense lawyer's duty to represent the defendant's interests is balanced by his duty to act in an ethical and professional manner.
- The defense lawyer must not intentionally misrepresent matters of facts or law to the court. For example, if a defendant admits his guilt to the defense lawyer, the defense lawyer may not permit him to testify that he did not commit the crime.
- The defense lawyer does not have to follow any instructions from the defendant that would be illegal or unethical.
- The defense lawyer has a duty to disclose any relevant laws or rulings to the court that are directly adverse to the defendant and that have not been disclosed by the prosecutor.
- The defense lawyer must avoid conflicts of interests with the defendant and all other parties involved in the case. This may mean the defense lawyer cannot represent co-defendants if their defenses will be adverse to one another.
It is important for the defense lawyer to act in a professional manner at all times when dealing with the judge and the prosecutor. The defense lawyer has a duty to provide effective representation to the defendant at all times. Unscrupulous or unethical behavior damages the reputation and credibility of the defense lawyer. As the representative of the defendant such acts also damage the reputation and credibility of the defendant.