I am happy to announce that the Montana Office of Public Defender hired me as an assistant public defender in Region One. I am thrilled and honored to hold this position–for many reasons. The role of the public defender is so crucial to maintaining a free society that without the public defender, there is no doubt liberty would be dominated by an over-bearing police power. Being a strong believer in the sanctity of natural rights of individuals, I feel right at home helping to defend the rights of those whom the State is trying to deprive their liberty.
Unfortunately, many people do not understand the role of the public defender and their importance. Every criminal defense attorney has heard someone say to him or her, how can you represent criminals. They ask the question not to understand the answer but to express their moral condemnation of those who are charged with the responsibility of defending those accused. Strangely, I hear this from Christians. They seem to forget that Jesus himself defended those whom the government accused of crimes and that Jesus’ message condemned government leaders harshly because of their refusal to administer justice and mercy in their judicial system.One may genuinely say, if Jesus were an attorney, he surely would have worked for the public defender’s office.
The longer I defend people accused of crimes by government the more it seems there is no effective way to communicate the truth concerning representing those charged with crimes–because many people simply know little to nothing about the nature of our existence in a free society and the principles that govern and protect our freedom. Those who would condemn public defenders show a philosophy that is dangerous to every right and liberty we say we are entitled to by Nature, God and our Constitution. Perhaps the only thing that can wake up those who think this way is for the police to arrest and the prosecutor to (over) charge them or their family members. At that point, they will see how critically important public defenders and criminal defense attorneys really are.
Regardless of how “good” or “bad” a person is who is charged with a crime, I find it obligatory on me to defend each and every right they have under our constitutions and under the fundamental nations of fairness, due process and liberty. I do this because I know that if the rights of others can be trampled by government, so can mine and so can my family’s; and I am not willing to live in a society that protects the rights of some but not others. I strongly feel that the only way my rights can be adequately protected is if the rights of the “worst” in society are vigorously protected. If I thought otherwise, I shouldn’t be a criminal defense attorney and should choose a less honorable profession.
And a word to the wise: if you have been charged with a crime and your attorney does not have this same philosophy of protecting your rights, you should strongly consider getting another defense attorney. Unfortunately, not all defense attorneys are true believers in protecting your rights. Many defense attorneys go along to get along and do not truly fight for your rights, and we have prisons with many people who simply had a non-believing defense attorney, or had an attorney that was more concerned about getting along with the prosecutors and judges than he was with protecting the rights of his clients. These attorneys look for the easiest way to close the file and move on to the next client.
This is a sad but real truth, and it has ruined many people’s lives. Of course, this does not even mention legislators who pass laws of supposed “law and order” not even caring about the harsh and detrimental consequences it has on so many people in our society, not to mention the burdensome taxes it places on us. To me, the criminal justice system itself needs to be reevaluated and consideration should be given to the atrocities that many criminal and sentencing laws have spread in our country–but that is for another article.
So, while I am limiting myself in the amount of money I can earn by working for the public, my spirit will be enriched knowing that I am doing the most good I possible can for my fellow citizens and society. I can ask for no greater reward in this profession. Thank you Office of Public Defender for hiring me.