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There Are Some Things a Rat Won't Do


An old lawyer joke asks, what's the difference between a lawyer and a rat?  Answer:  There are some things a rat won't do.

This came to mind when I read the story titled, "Elizabeth Smart Not So Psychologically Damaged, Kidnapper's Attorney Argues."  The piece notes:

Robert Steele, [defendant Brian David] Mitchell's attorney, admitted that his client did cause some psychological impact, but "in a legal sense, the story is not the extreme psychological injury. The story is her overcoming the extreme conduct of my client."

To support the claim, Steele referred to Smart's testimony, in which she called herself a survivor...

Mitchell was found guilty of kidnapping Smart, who was 14 at the time, from her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002. The kidnapping led to eight months of assaults by Mitchell, who would rape the girl numerous times during any given day.

Well, sure, I can see where if you're a terrorized 14 year-old being held in an ersatz dungeon and getting raped every day for months on end, this might produce some psychological impact, but hey, people, really, let's not get carried away.  She'll get over it.

The story goes on to note:

James Backman, a law professor at Brigham Young University whose son was one of the prosecutors in the Smart trial, says the defense's tactic will likely be denied. "If you're a defense attorney, you want to make sure every stone was unturned," he said.

Maybe it's time to change the canons of ethics so that counsel can select a stone here or there to leave unturned.  That way, future generations will be able to say there are some things, albeit not much, a lawyer won't do.

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