The Champion

May 2017 , Page 61 

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Informal Opinion: Representing ‘Those People’ Achieves Justice

By Alan L. Yatvin

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“How can you represent those people?” In three decades as a criminal defense attorney, I had heard that question many times — at cocktail parties and from prosecutors, police, victims, law students, and once even from a judge. It comes with the territory. I understand that people accused of crimes are often automatically condemned, while their lawyers are regarded with contempt. However, as I walked along that steamy January afternoon, I was shocked by the source of the question. This time it was my wife, Laura, prompted by a just completed hour-long audio tour of a former fruit orchard on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

We were at Choeung Ek, the most infamous of the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge. It was there that Pol Pot’s regime executed 20,000 people. The victims were those suspected of connections with the former government or foreign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals, members of various Cambodian ethnic groups and, in a cannibali

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