The Champion

January /February 2007 , Page 36 

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Witness for the Prosecution

By Lewis O. Unglesby

What is a Lawyer’s Role When a Client Becomes a Rat?

“The prisoner could never be a real witness. It is not human nature to speak the truth under such pressure, as would be brought to bear on the prisoner, and it is not a light thing to institute a system which could almost enforce perjury on every occasion. It is a mockery to swear a man to speak the truth when he is certain to disregard it.” Steven, A General View of the Criminal Law of England (1863, pp. 201-202).  

Historically, the judiciary recognized the fundamental fallacy in relying on the accused for truthful testimony. That judicial philosophy accepted the idea that self-preservation is so instinctive that it outweighs all other considerations.  

Today, previously accused criminals have become accepted as key witnesses, protected and rewarded by law for their stories. The role the criminal defense attorney plays in this process raises serious questions of ethics and fairness. The concept of mercy for

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