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620 1000 Ethics Zealous Advocacy and the Criminal Defense Attorney Apart from being flattered I am grateful to have been invited to address this distinguished gathering because it has caused me to focus on issues of ethics and morality that are daily companions of a practicing lawyer We are instructed by our codes of professional responsibility and told by professors legal scholars and mentors that we lawyers as guardians of the law play a vital role in the preservation of society that we have an obligation to adhere to the highest standards of ethical and moral conduct and that in our words and deeds we must promote respect for the law and our profession We must deal candidly with others and we should use our education skills and training to do public good Finally we are instructed to be zealous advocates on behalf of our clients I agree with all of this and I have tried in 30-plus years of practice to honor these goals But I would be less than candid if I said it was easy At times there is some moral conflict because these roles do not always work in harmony The zealous advocate often speaks and acts in ways that to many are morally questionable less than candid and do not promote respect for the law in the eyes of the public I believe the legal profession has done a poor job of giving guidance to its members on how to resolve the tension among these sometimes conflicting roles And we have done a miserable job in explaining our role to the public We have avoided dealing with difficult ethical issues by using generic words in our disciplinary rules and codes of responsibility and not dealing with the underlying problems We act as if litigation is simply a no holds barred game and all you need to do is follow the rules to be morally and ethically pure
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