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Criminal defence barristers?

(11 Posts)
MaryTheBookeeper Mon 31-Aug-20 08:43:44

I've been watching some old criminal cases & it made me curious, how does a barrister put their feelings & thoughts aside when all the evidence points very directly to their client being guilty but their client says, nope, wasn't me..

I saw one case where there was dna left at the scene, cctv of the defendent, witness statements, credit card & phone record evidence. The barrister must realise their client's on a hiding-to-nothing & yet they must follow the instructions of their client to follow a not-guilty plea. Do you think they think to themselves 'this guy's got no chance' but go through the motions anyway because that's what they're instructed to do?

Shropshirelass Mon 31-Aug-20 08:52:29

I think barristers are actors playing their part. The court room is their stage. If I thought someone was guilty and the evidence pointed to that, there is no way I would want to try to defend them. I suppose it is what they call a Fair Trial.

Oldwoman70 Mon 31-Aug-20 08:53:53

It used to be (not sure if it is still the case) that a barrister can not refuse a case (used to be called the Cab Rank rule) even if he/she believes the client to be guilty. They are bound to use their best endeavours to defend their client.

SilentGames Mon 31-Aug-20 08:56:03

Innocent or guilty a barrister’s job is to defend and get their client off. Nothing to do with whether they are guilty or innocent.

suziewoozie Mon 31-Aug-20 09:29:29

It’s also about the issue of a fair trial, even if guilty.

EllanVannin Mon 31-Aug-20 09:49:56

This is where the prosecution comes into its own as hopefully both sides will have read-up on a case and where a client is blatantly guilty have to go through the motions of a fair trial.
Barristers have a legal responsibility to their clients whether it be " legal guilt " or " factual guilt " so either way, must uphold that responsibility.

Oopsadaisy4 Mon 31-Aug-20 09:54:32

I was on a jury a while ago, it seemed obvious to us that the defendant was guilty ( he had admitted it, then changed his plea, but lots of witnesses to what he did) his Barrister was certainly only going through the motions and seemed at a loss to find plausible explanations to defend his client actions.

Hopefully that wasn’t his usual way of defending someone.

PetitFromage Mon 31-Aug-20 09:58:29

I practised at the criminal bar for a while and the point is that, if you believe in a system of justice, everyone is entitled to a fair trial and representation. The barrister is the advocate who is there to present the Defendant's case, not the judge or jury.

However, if a Defendant is found guilty rather than pleading guilty, they are likely to have a heavier sentence, so it's not in their interest to plead 'not guilty' when the evidence against them is compelling, on the off chance that they might get away with it.

Oldwoman70 Mon 31-Aug-20 10:34:16

PetitFromage - is it true that a barrister cannot defend a client on a not guilty plea if that client has admitted to him/her that they are guilty?

PetitFromage Mon 31-Aug-20 11:05:18

Yes. It would be unethical for a barrister to represent a client in defending a case in which they had already admitted their guilt.

Fennel Mon 31-Aug-20 12:30:01

I've wondered about that too Mary.
I think the main thing is that the essence of our criminal legal system is that a person is presumed innocent until proved guilty and it's only fair for the accused to have someone speak up for him.
Maybe finding loopholes in the law to reduce his culpability, or lead to a less severe sentence.