06 May 2008

Do Justice?

I'm looking thru the prosecutorial responsibilities section of the Virginia and ABA Rules of Professional Conduct and I noticed one glaring omission.

There is no requirement to "Do Justice."

It's in the first comment explaining the Rule - both stating "[1] A prosecutor has the responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate." - but it's not actually a Rule itself. Interesting that it was left out.

Mind you, it might be in the gazillion other Rules the ABA is trying to foist on prosecutors, including the "Criminal Justice Section Standards on Prosecution Function" and the brand, spanking new "Standards on Prosecutorial Investigations."

I've only glanced at these extra ABA "standards", and do not believe they have been adopted in Virginia. I'm rather suspicious of the ABA's claim that
"Many jurisdictions have adopted the ABA Standards of Criminal Justice Relating to the Prosecution Function, which in turn are the product of prolonged and careful deliberation by lawyers experienced in both criminal prosecution and defense."
Really? Who? I've known a whole passel of actually practicing prosecutors and defense attorneys and, as best I remember, maybe two three were members of the ABA (generously, perhaps 1/2%). And when I say "member", I mean someone who pays dues and gets the magazine, not someone who goes to national meetings and spends time composing tomes as to what lawyers should be doing. How could an actual, practicing, in-court prosecutor or defense attorney have time to partake in the production of something like that?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding like an "anti-elitist," many of the legal professions' organizations have grown increasingly exclusive of public sector & public interest lawyers. A large chunk of the problem seems to be large firm lawyers get their bar & organization dues paid for while those in the gov't sector don't.

For example, I pay all dues for bars & bar associations, as every public defender & prosecutor I know does. For me tis works out to $500 dollars a year in bar dues (two states) which comes from my pocket. When you add to that any professional organization dues the cost starts getting prohibitive (ABA 300, local bar 200, state bar, nacdl, etc).

My experience is that the ABA (and like orgs) tend to be made up of large firm lawyers (who have no idea what life is currently like in the trenches) or hobbyists lawyers who are independently wealthy and dabble in the trenches to add some excitement in their lives. Until they start getting those who work in the trenches back involved in their organizations for me it is hard to take them seriously about either the defense or prosecution function.