Truth, Justice, and the Criminal Defense Lawyer

9 (ABA) Prof. Law. 10 (1998)

4 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2013

Date Written: March 1, 1998


The duty of the criminal defense lawyer has been, and continues to be, to do one's level best to see that guilty clients are acquitted. Yes, I'm stating it baldly for effect. but also to comport with reality. The first reality: most criminal defendants -- even most who go to trial-arc. in truth, guilty, at least of something if not the crime charged. No one, even the most zealous prosecutor, wants to see the truly innocent convicted. The second reality: despite lofty statements about establishing "historical truth" or searching for absolute Truth, seeking truth is not and has not been the purpose of the criminal trial for the last 150 years. Nor should it be. Criminal trials are not primarily about truth. But they can and should be about justice.

Suggested Citation

Zitrin, Richard, Truth, Justice, and the Criminal Defense Lawyer (March 1, 1998). 9 (ABA) Prof. Law. 10 (1998), Available at SSRN:

Richard Zitrin (Contact Author)

UC Hastings Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

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