My earliest memory of my answer to the question, What do you want to be when you grow up?, was A lawyer. Then I found out how long I’d have to be in school and decided to explore a plan b or c for my life’s work. I was always eager to get out of school and start doing whatever it was I was going to do.
I fancied myself a criminal attorney (and later, a judge) but now I’m convinced I wouldn’t have had the stomach for it, not on the defence side anyway. Essentially, you have to be able to abandon any sense of personal integrity in the aim of getting your client a “fair” trial.
Look at the Phil Spector murder trial. The second one, that is. Spector’s driver has testified that the legendary music producer ran out of his home back on that fateful night in 2003 and said, “I think I killed someone.” That someone was B movie actress Lana Clarkson who lay dead in the foyer of Spector’s home. His defence hangs on the thin and misogynistic ruse that Clarkson, a distraught former star with fading looks. put a gun in her mouth and shot herself. In the foyer of Spector’s home. On their first date. With no testimony to support her “depression”. It’s absolutely disgusting. And a chorus line of women has come forward to swear that Spector pulled a gun on them in various situations, mostly when they tried to leave his home. Clarkson was in the foyer, remember.
The Stephanie Rengel murder case in Toronto is another one. The teen girl now convicted of first degree murder for jealously egging on her boyfriend to stab the 17 year old girl, had a lawyer who tried to show that the accused’s use of the word “kill” didn’t really mean kill. Hurt, insult, annoy, bother, taunt – despite having all of those words at her disposal, the defence hung on her decision to use kill in place of those other terms and claimed that, really, she didn’t mean it. She was only kidding when she told her boyfriend to “kill” the bitch or she’d never sleep with him again. The jury saw through that and knew that this sick teen did in fact mean kill when she texted kill and now she’s going to be sentenced as an adult, as she should be. The boy who is charged with the actual stabbing has yet to be tried. It should be a slam-dunk conviction but we’ll see what his attorney tries to concoct.
I realize that there are cases when it’s important to prove intent. But when you’ve bashed in someone’s head with a baseball bat and then claim you didn’t “intend” to kill him? That’s lunacy. And it’s the result of a sober second thought outside the heat of the angry moment. Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t become a lawyer because I’d have a hard time looking at my own reflection and feeling good about my role in life.