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Perhaps the greatest calamity that can befall a human being in our society is to be charged with a criminal offense. Based on mere accusations, the government, through this machinery of criminal prosecution, focuses its formidable powers against the individual. Amassed against the accused will be the prosecutor, the police and often times the general public.

The process may rend apart the accused's family, alienate his friends and destroy his own feelings of self worth. He will be forced to undergo public proceedings, many of which he may not understand, and which the prosecution will constantly point this accusatory finger as if to say "By his deeds, he is no longer one of us."

Very often the stakes are high. A judgment against the accused may require him to forfeit his property, his freedom, even his life. Into this breach steps defense counsel.

Sworn to protect the client's interests to the best of his ability, defense counsel, too, may incur this wrath of public disapproval, but his solemn oath will require him to provide the best defense the law will allow no matter what the personal costs. Armed with little more than his wits and his knowledge of the criminal law, he will become the voice through which the accused will, in effect, do battle with the awesome powers of his own government. Our adversary system requires no less than that defense counsel to become a "brother in arms" to the accused in his battle.

Defense counsel must be prepared to stand and fight for his client against public outcry: he must stand and fight for his client at the same final judgment is entered. Such a system is not efficient. It is not designed for "swift justice." Indeed, some would say that it is not designed for "justice" at all.

But if posterity judges a free society by how its treats its individual members, it should be of considerable consolation to us all that our system does not require an accused, to stand alone.

–author unknown

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