pogrmman wrote:I support everybody getting a defense. It would be horrible to have a legal system in which this wasn't the case.
However, the defense they are using doesn't seem particularly strong here... Granted, I didn't see the event, so I don't know the full story, just what has been reported.
I agree, but what other defence could they invoke? It's clear the injuries occurred and it's clear that the police caused them; The only angle the defence team can possibly take is that the injuries were accidental. They'd be failing in their duty not to try.
I don't think you understand what an attorney's obligations are. An attorney of any sort has an ethical obligation not to submit any argument or defense that isn't factually or legally justifiable. This isn't widely enforced with sanctions--often, it happens because a young attorney or even an experienced one in a particularly complex area of law makes an honest mistake, and we don't want to punish that too harshly, but this also means that some (well, probably many) less honest attorneys can get away with very closely skirting the line of what is a plausible argument.
But the ethical obligations are clear. For a defense attorney, this means you're not supposed to let your client testify if you know he plans to lie, and you're not supposed to raise a defense that you know to be based on a lie, such as blaming someone else when you know your client did it. Their duty in general is not "do anything and everything possible, no matter how dishonest or illegal, to get their client off," but rather to provide the best legally and factually supportable defense possible. In the case of a client they know did something wrong, that means holding the prosecution to the very high standard of proof required by law. The prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means proving every single element of the crime. In theory, you don't need to prove your client innocent because, according to the law, it's the burden of the state to prove that you committed the crime, and we don't believe that a random person should be forced to jump through hoops to prove that you're a good person simply because someone, somewhere got it in their head to accuse you of a crime.
I know this doesn't sound like much, but in our system it's actually a tremendous value-added. There are bad convictions all the time (by that, I mean cases the prosecution legally should not have won, and not necessarily cases where the convicted person was actually innocent.) When you have a PD handling a few hundred cases a year, he might not notice that the prosecution hasn't actually provided evidence supporting their claim that a certain aspect of the crime happened, or do a great job pointing out that the shaky case was far short of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. There are even appellate cases where a conviction was overturned, not because the crime was later found unconstitutional or the police did something wrong, but because a panel of judges looked at the evidence and concluded that, even if you assume take all of the prosecution's evidence to be 100% credible, it still didn't add up to a crime. Juries are human--sometimes they convict people because they're tired and want to go home, they can't get past their own biases and preconceived notions, or they don't really understand the law the trial is based on. Sometimes, they simply don't like the defendant. A good, honest defense attorney's job is to get the jury past any issues that would prevent them from giving the defendant a fair trial, and then do everything they can to convince them that in a fair trial, the government has fallen short.