Monday, May 23, 2005

Do You Believe Me?

I went on a long trip for a prison visit today. I went to see a Client who has been moved around the country several times by the Prison Service and today's location was the wonderful Isle of Sheppy. I went to see a Client because his trial is due to start soon and I wanted to explain the evidential difficulties with his case. This Client has previously had a conference with Counsel but has so far stated that he will continue to protest his innocence despite the weight of the evidence against him.

I approached this visit with my usual mindset of being broadminded and open to dsicussion - afterall it is not for me to tell Clients how to plead, it is for me to advise and for them to decide how they will plead. I sat down with the Client suggested that he should consider entering a guilty plea because the evidence was so strong againt him that he had such a small possibility of being acquitted. I was then told that the Client did not want to plead guilty and he confirmed the instructions that he had previously given to me. We started to discuss the case in general when the Client suddenly turned to me and said, "Do you believe me?" This is always a great question to be faced with, and it is much like the question your partner might say to you, "Does my bum look big in this?" There is no right answer to give, and any answer that you do give is likely to offend. I said to the Client that it was not important whether I believed him or not it was the jury that needed to be convinced and they were the ones that had to believe him. If I told him that I did believe his account I could be accused of being biased and not looking for the weaknesses in his case. If I told him that I did not believe him he would probably loose confidence in me dealing with his case. Fortunately the Client liked my explanation and we moved on in our discussions.

I did once get asked this question by a rather difficult Client. I gave the same answer as above explaining that it did not matter whether I believed the Client or not. On this occasion the Client got fairly angry and took some time to calm down.

I guess that I could lie in all cases and answer the question in the affirmative for an easy life. To be honest I try not to form an opinion on whether the Client is telling the truth or not as forming such an opinion would probably blur my objective perception of a case. I have to play Devil's Advocate in all cases to consider the prosecution case. Ultimately the truth is rarely important, what matters is how good is the evidence that either side presents?

2 comments:

Muppet said...

Please Please do not assume every time that a client is Guilty. Please Please accept that the Police DO Regularly falsify evidence. They Regulary Lie under Oath(as do many clients [obviously not trusting police]).

The Gulilford Four were crushed by the conspiricy of lies of the Police and Prosecution service; and it is my current experience that they haven't moved on.
I need a lawyer for December, I have legal Aid. If one cannot trust a lawyer to look into an array of physical evidence in preference to looking at police allegations then how can the innocent be helped?
ESPECIALLY WHEN THE POLICE REFUSE TO OBTAIN CCTV FOOTAGE PROVING INNOCENCE. We are talking Manchester International Airport Entrance here.
c.hargreaves2@tiscali.co.uk

Muppet said...

Please Please do not assume every time that a client is Guilty. Please Please accept that the Police DO Regularly falsify evidence. They Regulary Lie under Oath(as do many clients [obviously not trusting police]).

The Gulilford Four were crushed by the conspiricy of lies of the Police and Prosecution service; and it is my current experience that they haven't moved on.
I need a lawyer for December, I have legal Aid. If one cannot trust a lawyer to look into an array of physical evidence in preference to looking at police allegations then how can the innocent be helped?
ESPECIALLY WHEN THE POLICE REFUSE TO OBTAIN CCTV FOOTAGE PROVING INNOCENCE. We are talking Manchester International Airport Entrance here.
c.hargreaves2@tiscali.co.uk