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The Moral Conundrum Of Representing The Rat
By Barry Tarlow
RICO Report columns.
Many defense lawyers are morally and ethically opposed to representing informers in arranging cooperation agreements which allow clients to avoid responsibility for their own crimes by putting others in prison. Some lawyers who also are committed to defending those accused of crimes do not share this aversion. These views illustrate the wide range of perspectives among defense attorneys who share the common goals of zealously representing clients and preserving integrity in our criminal justice system.
Some lawyers have a firm policy against becoming involved with snitches. They believe that they have both the right and obligation to exercise their independent moral judgment by refusing to participate in the “dirty business”1 of informer arrangements. Other lawyers claim that this as an elitist position which they say is available only to successful retained counsel, and not to many private practitioners or public defenders who often represent those most in need. These attorneys point
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