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An Accident

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A University of Virginia hockey player was killed by her ex-boyfriend in a fit of rage.  The AP story, carried here, relates this:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Describing a scene of violent rage, the Virginia lacrosse player accused of killing a member of the women's team told police he kicked in her bedroom door, shook her, and her head repeatedly hit the wall, according to a court document....

An affidavit for a search warrant said two people found Love, of Cockeysville, Md., face down in her bedroom early Monday morning, with a pool of blood on her pillow. There was a large bruise on her face and one eye was swollen shut, police said, and she was pronounced dead at the scene after attempts to revive her.

 The suspect, 22-year-old George Huguely, of Chevy Chase, Md., has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Yeardly Love, also 22.

The article includes this paragraph describing the response of Mr. Huguely's lawyer:

Huguely...appeared via videoconference from Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, wearing a gray-striped uniform. Afterward, his lawyer, Francis Lawrence, told reporters that Love's "death was not intended, but an accident with a tragic outcome."

So your girlfriend breaks up with you, your response is to kick down her door and bash her head in, and this is "an accident."

Seriously, could someone here tell me how defense lawyers manage this stuff?

3 Comments

Once you have your moral compass removed and start getting a whole lot of $, telling whoppers with a straight face is rather simple...

Cal. Prosector,

I guess my next question is: What do these guys tell their kids about what they do? I mean, suppose attorney Lawrence has a 13 year-old boy at home, and he asks dad, "What did you do at work today?" Does Lawrence say, "I'm representing a really strong guy who got mad and beat his ex-girlfriend to a bloody pulp, unfortunately killing her, but I told the newspapers it was an accident." And then the kid asks, "But that's not really the truth."

So what does he say then? "You have a nice allowance because I'm professional liar?" "This is your lesson for today: When you're in a tight spot, your best bet is to lie?"

I'm not being entirely facetious here. I actually want to know the mental and emotional process that allows this stuff to go on. Why, and how, would a person spend his waking hours doing things he would punish his teenager for doing?

One of my first posts here was on the ethics of criminal defense. Not surprisingly, its tactics are linked to its goal. The goal of defense counsel is, as much as possible, to put a person he knows or ought to know is guilty, and possibly dangerous as well, back on the street. The means for achieving this start well before trial, as they have in this case, and generally consist of obfuscation mixed in with what we see here, namely, flat-out lying.

I have heard a lot of explanations for this, but never a convincing one: The government should be held to its proof; the system depends on its adversarial character; Constitutional rights must be preserved no matter what the offense; and (less frequently but perhaps more honestly) society has mistreated my client and is getting the blowback it has earned.

I just don't believe any of it. How many lifetimes do these people think they have coming up in which they can live in a way that's wholesome, honest and straight? Doesn't the constant need to lie and twist the truth tell them something about the true nature of what they're doing?

As I say, I don't get it. But people do it all the time. I would honestly like to get help figuring this out. It has bedeviled me my entire professional life.

Bill,
Having worked against, been friends with and also having a (former) brother-in-law as criminal defense attys, I have found they can be categorized as coming in three flavors:
1) The true believers. Think Tony Serra here. The government is always evil, the defendant is always a victim of racist, sexist, moneyed society, yadda, yadda. Some variation thereof would be parroted to any child unfortunate enough to have such as a parent.
2) The scumbags. Nuff said. (Why yes, the two groups DO often overlap.) Scumbag wouldn't answer the Q, but would just buy the kid a new stereo, new car or a better shrink...
3) The professionals. They believe they have a job to do, do it well while respecting their own ethical beliefs, but always hope for and get excited by the cases where their clients genuinely have some sort of mitigation evidence (usually mental illness). As you might imagine, his last archtype constitutes the group that my defense atty friends fall into.
In dealing with this kind of case you can expect that they edit information about their cases with their children much the same way that I did.
Given the ridiculous statement made by the defense atty in the UV case, I feel safe betting on which grouping he would ooze into.

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