Session 25 Wasserstrom, Lawyers as Professionals: Some Moral Issues

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1 Session25 Wasserstrom, LawyersasProfessionals:SomeMoralIssues Wasserstromconsiderstwoclassesofmoralcriticismtheprofessionalroleofthelawyermay openherupto: 1. Thelawyer clientrelationshiprendersthelawyeratbestsystematicallyamoral andatworstmorethanoccasionallyimmoralinhisorherdealingswiththerestof mankind. (p.1)thisisaworryabout thelawyer sstancetowardtheworldat large. 2. Thelawyer clientrelationship...ismorallyobjectionablebecauseitisa relationshipinwhichthelawyerdominatesandinwhichthelawyertypically,and perhapsinevitably,treatstheclientinbothanimpersonalandapaternalistic fashion. (p.1)thisisaworryabouttherelationshipbetweenthelawyerandthe client. Wasserstromcharacterizesthemoralthorninessofthelawyer spositiontoherroleasa professional:itreflectsthelawyer speculiar role differentiatedbehavior : Itisinthenatureofrole differentiatedbehaviorthatitoftenmakesitboth appropriateanddesirableforthepersoninaparticularroletoputtooneside considerationsofvarioussorts andespeciallyvariousmoralconsiderations that wouldotherwiseberelevantifnotdecisive. (p.3) Role differentiatedbehavioroftenalters,ifnoteliminates,thesignificanceofthose moralconsiderationsthatwouldobtain,wereitnotforthepresenceoftherole. (p. 4) Wasserstrom sotherexamples: Theparent,whoismorallypermitted perhapsevenmorallyobligated togive moreweighttotheinterestsofhisorherownchildrenthantothoseofother children evenneedierchildren. o Doyouthinkthisfairlycharacterizestheroleoftheparent? Thescientist,whoseroleisto expandthelimitsofhumanknowledge, without considerationoftheendstowhichthatknowledgewillbeput(e.g.,researchinto atomictheory). o Doyouthinkthisfairlycharacterizestheroleofthescientist? Whataresomeotherpossibleexamplesofrole differentiatedbehavior? o Thejudge?Thepoliceman?Thedoctor?Thefriend?Thepsychiatrist?The priest? Manyoftheseexamplesofrole differentiatedbehavior(thoughperhapsnotinthe caseofthescientist,judge,orpoliceman)havesomethingincommon.thespecial, role relateddutiesandpermissionsreflectthespecialrelationshipstheseagents,in theirroles,standintoparticularpersons,andthespecialresponsibilitiestheyhave towardsthosepersons:theirchildren,clients,patients,friends,parishoners. 1

2 o Wasserstrom: theprofessionalquaprofessionalhasaclientorapatient whoseinterestsmustberepresented,attendedto,orlookedafterbythe professional.andthatmeansthattheroleoftheprofessional(likethatofthe parent)istopreferinavarietyofwaystheinterestsoftheclientorpatient overthoseofindividualsgenerally. (p.5) Wasserstromarguesthattheburdenofproofshouldfallontheproponentofroledifferentiatedbehaviortoestablishthatsuchbehaviorisdesirable.(Argumentstothis purposemustpresumablybeofferedfromoutsideoftheroleinquestion ) Thismayallbestartingtosoundabitfamiliar.It sworthconsideringsomeparallelsthe questionswe reconsideringhereandquestionswe vediscussedinthisclassbefore: CompareRawls accountofpunishmentin TwoConceptsofRules thatwasan attempttoexplainhowwemightappealtothejustificationofapracticegoverned bycertainrules(e.g.thepracticeofpunishingonlythosewebelieveguilty,keeping apromise,regardlessofconsequences)tojustifyaparticularactionfallingunderit, whichmightotherwiselookmorallyunjustified(e.g.lettinganinnocentpersongo freealthoughdoingsowillresultinriotsleadingtomoreinnocentdeaths;keepinga promisealthoughbreakingitwouldleadtomoreoverallutility). Comparealsosomeoftheissueswediscussedinrelationtotheobligationtoobey thelaw:dworkin,ofcourse,sawtheobligationtoobeyverymuchinroledifferentiatedterms wehaveanobligationtoobeythelawsofoursociety even when,absentthelaw,performingtheactionitrequiredmightbeoptional,oreven wrong becausewestandinaparticularassociativerelationtoothermembersof oursociety.razdidn tseetheobligationinthoseterms,butalsodescribedcasesin whichthepresenceofalawmightgiveusareasontoperformanactionwhich, absentthelawmandatingit,wemighthavenoreasontoperform;rememberraz s categoryof exclusionaryreasons?thoseareveryrelevantagainhere. Nowwe reconsideringwhetherthelawyermayhavereasonstoperformcertain actions(offercertainarguments,challengecertainwitnesses,promotecertainends, etc.)whichshewouldhavenoreasontoperform(orreasonnottoperform)ifshe occupiedadifferentrole. Inthecaseofthelawyer,asinRawls arguments,thepresenceofsuchspecial reasonswillbejustifiedbyappealtothebeneficialbroadereffectsofadmitting them thevalueofthepracticeortheprofessionthatadmitsofsuchreasons... Role differentiatedbehaviorandtheroleofthelawyer Wasserstrom:Whenanattorney clientrelationshipexists,thelawyermayoftenbe permittedorevenrequiredtodothingswhichs/hewouldnotbepermittedtodowereit notforthatrelationship,e.g.: Oncealawyerrepresentsaclient,thelawyerhasadutytomakehisorher expertisefullyavailableintherealizationoftheendsoughtbytheclient, irrespective,forthemostpart,ofthemoralworthtowhichtheendwillbeputor 2

3 thecharacteroftheclientwhoseekstoutilizeit.providedthattheendsoughtisnot illegal,thelawyerisinessenceanamoraltechnicianwhosepeculiarskillsand knowledgeinrespecttothelawareavailabletothosewithwhotherelationshipof clientisestablished. (pp.5 6)Examples: o Alawyer,oncesheorheagreestorepresentaclientchargedwithacrime,is obligatedtodohisorherbesttodefendthatclientattrial,regardlessofthe lawyer sbeliefintheclient sinnocence. Twoquestions:iflawyersagreetotakeatrial,aretheythenobligated toprovidethebestdefense?v.arelawyersmorallyjustifiedintakingon thedefenseofapersontheybelievetobeguilty? Otherexamples:wemayneed,e.g.,CIAinterrogators,butshould wewanttobecomethem? Also therearecircumstancesunderwhichlawyerscanwithdrawfrom acaseorturndownacasethatisassignedtothem whatarethey? o Alawyermayberequired(orpermitted),inthecourseofdefendingaclient, tomakeuseofpracticesandproceduresthatarethemselvesmorally objectionableandthatthelawyerwoulddisapproveofwereshenotcharged withprovidingherclientwiththebestdefenseshecan,e.g.: Defendingaclientthelawyerbelievestobeguilty Wasserstrom sexample:insistingtheaccuserinarapecaseundergo apsychiatricexamination(nolongerpermittedbylaw,butwasatthe timewasserstromwrotethearticle) Otherexamples:ruthlesscross examinationofaccuserinarapetrial designedtothrowdoubtonhertestimony(e.g.byquestioningher abouthersexualhistory) o Examplesofrole differentiatedmoralityareperhapsevenmoreprevalent (andproblematic)outsidethecriminallaw: Estatelaw helpingaclientdrawupawillthatexcludesherchildren frominheritingbecausetheyareanti waractivists Taxlaw helpingawealthyclienttakeadvantageofanexclusivetax loop holethelawyerdisapprovesof Corporatelaw drawingupthearticlesofincorporationfora companythatmarketsaharmfulbutnotillegalproduct(guns? Cigarettes?Legalpornography?) Spauldingv.Zimmerman JohnYoo storturememos o Again,weshoulddifferentiatebetweenthemoralreasonsalawyerhasto takeacase,andthereasonsshehasonceshe stakenthecase Defendingthelawyer srole differentiatedmoralobligations Theargumentfromthevalueofthesystem: o Wasserstrom: Itisgood...thatthelawyer sbehaviorandconcomitantpoint ofviewarerole differentiatedbecausethelawyerqualawyerparticipatesin 3

4 acomplexinstitutionwhichfunctionswellonlyiftheindividualsadhereto theirinstitutionalroles. (p.9) Compare,again,withRawls utilitarian defenseofretributive punishmentbyappealtotheutility valueofthepracticeofdesertbasedpunishment. Thissecureslegaljustice:theamoralroleofthelawyer guarantees everycriminaldefendant hisorherdayincourt; otherwise, the privatejudgmentofindividuallawyerswouldineffectbesubstituted forthepublic,institutionaljudgmentofthejudgeandjury. (p.10) Itsecurestheeffectivenessofthesystem: Theadversarysystem is simplyabettermethodthananyotherthathasbeenestablishedby whichtodeterminethelegallyrelevantfactsinanygivencase.itis certainlyabettermethodthantheexerciseofprivatejudgmentby anyparticularindividual. (p.10) But:isitbetterthananadversarysystemgovernedbyslightly differentrules? Thesekindsofarguments,asWasserstromnotes,cangetoffthe groundonlyifwehaveaveryhighdegreeofconfidenceinthe institutionsthemselves Innon criminalcases,thecomplaintofthelawyershouldbewiththe lawandnotwiththeclient. Why? Anyothersystemwouldbeundemocratic: Iflawyerswereto substitutetheirownprivateviewsofwhatoughttobelegally permissibleandimpermissibleforthoseofthelegislature,thiswould constituteasurreptitiousandundesirableshiftfromademocracyto anoligarchyoflawyers. (pp.10 11) Wasserstromthinkstheseconsiderationsaresufficienttojustifyrole differentiated behaviorofthecriminaldefenselawyer: Becauseadeprivationoflibertyisso serious,becausetheprosecutorialresourcesofthestatearesovast,andbecause, perhaps,ofaseriousskepticismabouttherightnessofpunishmentevenwhere wrongdoinghasoccurred,itiseasytoaccepttheviewthatitmakessensetocharge thedefensecounselwiththejobofmakingthebestpossiblecasefortheaccused withoutregard,sotospeak,forthemerits.thiscoupledwiththefactthatitisan adversarialproceedingsucceeds,ithink,injustifyingtheamoralityofthecriminal defensecounsel. (p.12) Buthe sskepticalthatthesespecialcircumstancesapplymorebroadlytothemany otherexamplesofrole differentiatedbehavioramonglawyers. o Whatdoyouthink?Isthereadefense,basedonthevalueofthesystem,forthe kindofamoral(immoral?)behavioroftenrequiredbythepracticeofvarious kindsofcivillaw? Otherdifficultiespresentedbytherole differentiatedbehavioroflawyers: o [I]tisclearthattherearedefinitecharactertraitsthattheprofessionalsuch asthelawyermusttakeonifthesystemistowork.whatislessclearisthat theyareadmirableones. (p.13)hementionscompetitiveness, aggressiveness,pragmatism,andruthlessness. 4

5 Thatis,evenifit sbestthatwehavesuchlawyers,becauseofthe valueofthesystem,canlawyersoccupyingtheserolesstillbe virtuous? Wasserstromclearlyalsoworriesaboutthepossiblecorrupting effectsofthelegalprofession(thewatergateexample):agradual wearingdownofsensitivitytomoralboundaries o Wasserstromalsoarguesthattherole differentiatedbehavioroflawyers putstheir integrity intoquestioninawaythattherole differentiated behaviorofmostotherprofessionsdoesnot.that sbecausealawyeractsas anagentandspokesmanforhisclientsinawaythatadoctor,forexample, doesnotactasanagent.adoctormustputherpatient sinterestsfirst,but sheneedn tactasanextensionofherpatient swill,asalawyerdoes: Thelawyermustaimtoexplain,persuadeandconvinceothersthat theclient scauseshouldprevail,whetherornotshebelievesthis. Thisarguablyinvolvesthelawyerinhypocrisy. Shealsobecomesanactivepartinaprojectshemaynotbelievein thismaycompromiseherintegrity. Wasserstrom ssecondconcern:moralproblemsinthelawyer clientrelationship Wasserstromalsoarguesthattheprofessionalroleoflawyersputsthemindangerof formingmorallyproblematicrelationswiththeirclients:paternalisticrelationsinwhich theytakethemselvestobethebestjudgesoftheirclientsinterestsevenbeyondtheareaof theirexpertise,andinwhichtheypreventtheirclientsfrommakinginformedjudgments abouttheirowncases(legalese).(considerspauldingagain ) Thisisfamiliaralsofromourdealingswithprofessionalsofothersorts(e.g.,doctors). Shouldandcananythingbedonetocorrectit? 5

6 MIT OpenCourseWare J / J Philosophy of Law Spring 2012 For information about citing these materials or our Terms of Use, visit:

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