by Ryan McKeen
I’ve come to expect this kind of thing from the comments section on the Courant. Every article that mentions Ross Garber inevitably results in ignorant comments about how he represented Governor Rowland (not true) and that he’s a scumbag for doing so (also not true).
Worse comments about lawyers occur whenever there’s an article about the Cheshire murders. I’ve never met Tom Ullman but everyone I know who has says great things about him both as a person and as a lawyer.
The public at large is woefully misinformed about the role lawyers play in the administration of justice. Lawyers everywhere should be concerned when the idea that when a lawyer represents a client he approves of his clients activities.
The rules of professional ethics make it clear that “a lawyer’s representation of a client….does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities” Rule 1.2(b).
The comment to the rule makes clear its purpose: “legal representation should not be denied to people….whose cause is controversial or the subject of popular disapproval”.
This is important for several reasons. The first is that people are wrongly accused of things all the time and need lawyers who are willing to fight for them. Second, our system is adversarial and based on the notion that the truth comes out when both sides of a case are vigorously represented. Third, if only the people we liked had access to attorneys then the government could more easily trample on the the rights of individuals. Fourth, good attorneys often prevent bad things from happening by convincing their clients to do the right thing. Representation, even for people we don’t like, serves the greater good.
I was stunned to read the following on Kevin Rennie’s blog about candidates lunch in Fairfield involving the republican candidates for attorney general:
Each was invited to take a few minutes to make a pitch for support. Garber began. He was followed by Dean, who went on at some length, as is her custom. She accused Garber of representing corrupt politicians and mobsters. Dean got her crime bombs confused and even lumped Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti in with the mobsters. Link.
According to her campaign website, Dean has practiced law for 22 years. I expect such comments on the Courant.com. I don’t expect a candidate for Attorney General to advance the idea that attorneys are who they represent for political gain. Such comments are harmful to the profession.