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Evaluate the view below on the choices by the prosecutor and defense attorney might affect the search for justice in the future. For example, if the prosecutor’s actions are acceptable to your classmate, what could that mean in cases next year?
Would it be acceptable for a prosecutor to destroy evidence of a defendant’s guilt? It is never acceptable for a prosecutor to withhold or destroy evidence, that would result either in an offender’s innocence or guilt. By doing such, the prosecutor would seriously jeopardize the integrity of the criminal justice system and the courtroom workgroup. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3:7, ESV). Prosecutors have a number of specific ethical obligations in addition to the overarching prosecutorial duty to seek justice, such as disclosing exculpatory evidence, avoiding conflicts of interest, and refraining from any behavior that would interfere with the fair administration of justice (Neubauer & Fradella, 2017).
From a legal and moral perspective would it be acceptable for a defense attorney to let his/her client be found guilty? Lawyers who are confident of their client’s guilt confront inescapable ethical conflicts when the client insists on a vigorous defense. The lawyer’s obligations to protect confidential client communications and to conduct a zealous defense come into conflict with the lawyer’s duty of candor toward the court and possibly the lawyer’s own moral sensibility (Asimow & Weisberg, 2009). The American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct rules impose ethical obligations on lawyers to their clients, as well as to the courts since all attorneys are officers of the court (Neubauer & Fradella, 2017). In some instances, defense attorneys’ have won the case for their client only to secretly or anonymously inform the police of continued illegal activity, and the offender is arrested and charged. Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord (Jeremiah 17:5, ESV).
The impact of the prosecutor destroying evidence and the defense attorney allowing his client to be found guilty would be detrimental to the public’s trust in the criminal justice system. A prosecutor would risk being impeached, disbarred, criminally charged and sued civilly for unethical behavior. A defense attorney would also risk undergoing an ethical review by the state bar and could face a potential civil suit for under-representing his or her client. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear (1 Timothy 5:20, ESV).
Asimow, M., & Weisberg, R. (2009). When the Lawyer Knows the Client Is Guilty. Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, 18(229), 229-258.
Neubauer, D. W., & Fradella, H. F. (2017). America’s Courts and the Criminal Justice System (13th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, Inc.