There will always be a lawyer.
January 28, 2001 6:05 PM   Subscribe

There will always be a lawyer. "Internet intoxication"? This is worse than twinkies.
posted by Steven Den Beste (7 comments total)
Actually, despite how silly it sounds the lawyer is actually doing his job. I saw an interview one time with a defense lawyer and he was asked point-blank how he could defend rapists and murderers and other scum like that; didn't he feel guilty if he got them off?

His answer was interesting, and I think correct. What he said was "You don't understand. Justice isn't my job. I'm an advocate; my job is to make the best case I can for my client. The prosecutor does the same thing for the state. Justice is the job of the judge and jury."

The idea being that even if the defense attorney does the best he can, if everyone else does too and the defendant is guilty, then he'll be convicted and go to prison anyway. In the meantime, the defendant has a constitutional right (in the US) to competent counsel. It's in the Sixth Amendment. So though it's fun to laugh at this lawyer, in fact I have to say I also feel a bit of admiration for the fact that he's going to stand in a courtroom and keep a straight face while he tries to prove that his client suffered from "Internet intoxication".

And if I ever get in trouble, I hope I can find someone as good.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:12 PM on January 28, 2001

The lawyers on The Practice make this point regularly. It's their job to kick as much ass as they can for the defendant, even the obviously guilty ones, to keep things safe for the rest of us.
posted by dhartung at 6:58 PM on January 28, 2001

The canons of ethics do indeed require not just a defense to the best of our abilities, but a zealous defense. Makes it hard when you know your client has done something really heinous, but that's the risk of the job.
posted by Dreama at 10:04 PM on January 28, 2001

For all us non-Americans, would someone be so kind as to explain what the 'twinkie defence' is?
posted by tobyslater at 5:28 AM on January 29, 2001

Okay, here's more than you probably ever wanted to know: In the trial of Dan White for the 1978 murders of San Francisco mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk, the defense centered on demonstrating that White suffered from a long-term, untreated depression that prevented him from telling the difference between right and wrong (a standard for legal insanity in California, as in many other U.S. states). An expert witness brought up White's switch from a healthy diet to one consisting almost entirely of junk food, including Twinkies. The popular memory of this trial has it that the defense claimed that the high-sugar diet caused White's criminal behavior, leading to the catchphrase "Twinkie defense" to indicate the perceived modern tendency to deny responsibility for one's own actions by any means possible; apparently, though, the junk food diet was brought up as an indicator of White's mental state, not a cause.
posted by redfoxtail at 6:06 AM on January 29, 2001

Exhibit A: "MetaFilter: more addictive than crack"

The subpoena's in the mail...
posted by Avogadro at 7:04 AM on January 29, 2001

Underground is a book about hacking and underground culture in Australia, which the publishers released for free on the internet. It's a good book, but the reason I bring it up is because several of the hackers on trial managed to go free after pleading that they were "addicted to computer hacking and that, as a result of this addiction," they were "not able to form the criminal intent necessary to be convicted." So, it's kinda been used before successfully - curious to see if it holds up here in the US...
posted by jwells at 7:20 AM on January 29, 2001

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