The justice system plays a critical role in ensuring the stability of the society by ensuring that laws that govern the society are followed by all members of the society. Thus, the justice system is bound by the same issues that affect the society and therefore ethics which is considered an integral part of any society has a bearing on the practices of the justice system. The role of defense attorney as the legal representative of the defendant is important in ensuring equality and justice.
The right to an attorney is central to delivery of justice and proper understanding of the ethical issues that affect the activities of defense attorney is not only important to maintaining the faith of the society on the legal system, but is also a requirement for any professional in the justice system. Discussion The practice of law is an interesting profession not just due to the different cases that one handles but rather the dilemmas that defense attorneys find themselves in.
Ethical issues that defense attorneys are faced with arise from areas that include representation of codefendants, payment modes, coaching of witnesses and clients, confidentiality issues and joint defense agreement. The relevance of ethics to law cannot be disputed for it plays a role in the view of the justice system as a social institution in ensuring that it is of the same dictates as those put in place by the society (Graham, 2004).
It is therefore the personal responsibility of defense attorneys to ensure they are well informed on the ethical codes and what is expected of them. They should also take personal steps to ensure that their activities are as per ethical requirements. Defense attorneys risk losing their practice permits and their reputation by engaging in unethical activities thus such activities are both detrimental to the professional and personal development of the defense attorneys.
A defense attorney should never reveal information about the client unless consent by the client. However, there are several instances where an attorney can make exceptions especially where such disclosures could prevent death or bodily harm, prevent a crime or fraud, mitigate or prevent substantial damage to financial interest, secure legal advise, establish a defense on behalf of the attorney where there is controversy between an attorney and required by a court order (Banks, 2004).
Disclosure of information does not in fact augur well with the professional development of an attorney for attorneys that have a reputation for disclosing information are bound get few clients. On the other hand, apart from disclosure required by a court order all other forms of disclosure are within the attorney’s decision making frame. Clients place their private information in the hands of defense attorneys and if they form habit of exposing such information then they are acting wrongly from deontological perspective to ethics (Bergman, & Berman-Barrett, 2007).
Revealing information that has been given in confidence is wrong irrespective of the consequences. The decision on whether to reveal information or not lies squarely in the hands of the defense attorney and requires thorough consideration on the effect that such a move has on the society and the attorney’s practice. Another area of ethical importance is conflicting interests.
Basically the ethical code that governs defense attorney puts it plainly that a lawyer cannot represent a client if the representation will lead to concurrent conflict of interest except: when the attorney has evidence to support his belief that he will be able to represent each of the clients diligently; representation of the client is not prohibited by the law; the nature of the case that he will be representing the client in does not involve assertion that link the two clients and if both clients give informed consent of the attorneys involvement in their cases (Bergman, & Berman-Barrett, 2007).
The relationship between a lawyer and his clients is more than just a business relationship due to the levels of disclosure involved. It is less likely that a client will refuse an attorney the chance to represent another client whether he is informed or not. This is especially true in a case where the attorney represents an individual client rather than corporate clients. Defense attorneys are therefore placed in position where the decisions on whether to represent clients whose representation may lead to conflict of interest lies squarely on them (Taylor, & Johnson, 2007).
Cases of conflicting interest place the litigation processes at risk and the entire judicial system may be placed at risk if it can be ascertained that the conflict of interest has a negative bearing on the course of justice. Defense attorneys should avoid being at the center of such brawls for they negatively affect their reputation. Another area of ethical interest is the responsibility that defense attorneys have to their former clients.
It is worth noting that as much as the relationship between an attorney and his client is professional the information that the client gives to his attorney has a bearing on the individual’s life (Bergman, & Berman-Barrett, 2007). Irrespective of the stage of their relationship it is important that an attorney who has represented a client in a matter does not represent another client in a related matter if the interest of the former client may be affected unless the client consents (Taylor, & Johnson, 2007).