The Criminal Defense Attorney: Roadblock or Bridge to Restorative Justice

18 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2008

See all articles by Robert F. Cochran

Robert F. Cochran

Pepperdine University - Rick J. Caruso School of Law

Date Written: 1999


Today the criminal justice system is facing daunting problems and almost no one seems to be satisfied with the way that we treat crime. Restorative justice, however, may provide a solution to the problems of the current criminal justice system. Cochran considers the role that the criminal defense attorney might play in discussing restorative justice with the client. Restorative justice brings together the offender and victim in an effort to lead to repentance, reconciliation, and forgiveness. Many conflicts exist with the prevailing concepts surrounding a criminal defense attorney's duties and those required for the restorative justice process to take effect. Restorative justice requires offenders to take responsibility for their actions and the harms they have caused, but many criminal defense lawyers see their primary job as making sure clients do not take responsibility for their actions. Cochran argues that a lawyer who is truly concerned with client interests, however, will at least raise and discuss the question whether the client should take responsibility for his actions. At a minimum, the lawyer should make the client aware of the process of restorative justice. While there are several arguments against the defense lawyer suggesting restorative justice to the client, these arguments fail to negate the benefits. The current criminal justice system works to the detriment of defendants, victims, and the public. Restorative justice holds out the promise of bringing forgiveness and reconciliation to defendants, and peace-of-mind and comfort to the victims. By making a client aware of the benefits of restorative justice, the criminal defense attorney can serve as a bridge, rather than a roadblock, to restorative justice.

Keywords: restorative justice, criminal, client counseling

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Cochran, Robert F., The Criminal Defense Attorney: Roadblock or Bridge to Restorative Justice (1999). Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 14, No. 1, 1999, Available at SSRN:

Robert F. Cochran (Contact Author)

Pepperdine University - Rick J. Caruso School of Law ( email )

24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States
310-456-4684 (Phone)
310-456-4063 (Fax)

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