Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

This Honorable Profession

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

This Honorable Profession

Article excerpt

Dr. J. Rufus Fears, the David Ross Boyd Professor of Classics at the University of Oklahoma, has said that if a society were to be based upon honor, its disputes would be settled by duels. After all, the contestants in a duel are so committed to their position that they are willing to stake their lives on it. Dr. Fears goes further to say that lawyers, hired by others to settle their disputes for them, represent the antithesis of honor.

Over my years in this profession, I have encountered lawyers who would lead me to agree with Dr. Fears. There have been those who have absolutely no regard for the truth, but rather are using every trick they know to get a witness to give them a sound bite or quote that will help them win their case. Even though they know the true answer the witness has to offer, they will repeatedly ask the question, sometimes from slightly different angles, in an attempt to get the witness to give an answer that will help their cause, whether or not the answer is true. Such tactics led one lawyer, in open court, to refer to his adversary, in the following manner: "[i]f I ordered a boxcar full of sons-a-bitches, and the boxcar arrived and I broke the seal on the door and opened it, and only he was standing alone in the car, I would NOT file a claim for shortage."

While I understand the lawyer's duty to represent his client zealously, I view ignoring the truth in trying to win a case as going beyond that obligation and reaching a point that, indeed, represents the antithesis of honor.

Is our profession an honorable profession?

When I was considering my invitation to join the IADC, my nominator, Bill Wood, handed me a copy of the Defense Counsel Journal, turned to the "IADC Tenets of Professionalism," and said, "The members of the IADC take these very seriously. …

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