Defense lawyers aren't responsible?

August 16, 2010
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Has anyone seen Liberty Mutual’s online video called “Lawyers” starring Ron Livingston and Saffron Burrows as defense attorneys?

I came across it as I was reading a story on It was an ad imbedded in the story. I took the bait and opened it. It’s well done, but just rubs me the wrong way. And I love Ron Livingston.  

Livingston’s character, Ryder, is a public defender. His girlfriend, Ann, is a private defense attorney who has just agreed to represent a baseball player in a steroids case. Ryder is planning on proposing, but gets cold feet based on Ann’s characters comments on her representation. She wants to make the argument the ball player had no idea what the doctor was injecting into him.

They get into a small ethical debate, which puts an end to the proposal Ryder planned to make in a grand fashion at a restaurant.

Liberty Mutual produced the video as a part of its Responsibility Project, which includes a website on exploring what it means to do the right thing. This is a common theme in its advertising (think of the ad where one person sees someone do a good thing, so that person does something good, and so on, leading back to the first scene of do-gooders), so this is really just a glorified ad campaign.

Part of the project mentions how it’s not always about “black and white,” which is also said in the video. But the video makes it seem like a defense attorney, hired to try to get her client off, is doing something wrong by defending him when she knows he took steroids.

Yes, defense attorneys get a bad rap, but that’s because they defend some bad people. Last time I checked, those accused of a crime are entitled to an attorney, not that only those who are innocent are entitled to an attorney.

The video implies a lack of responsibility on the female attorney’s part. Yes, it stinks that she’s trying to find loopholes and other ways to get her client off, but that’s her job. Is it fair to paint her as a bad person or irresponsible?


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  1. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  2. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  3. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?

  4. I hope you dont mind but to answer my question. What amendment does this case pretain to?

  5. Research by William J Federer Chief Justice John Marshall commented May 9, 1833, on the pamphlet The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina (The Papers of John Marshall, ed. Charles Hobson, Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006, p, 278): "Reverend Sir, I am much indebted to you for the copy of your valuable sermon on the relation of Christianity to civil government preached before the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Charleston, on the 13th of February last. I have read it with great attention and advantage. The documents annexed to the sermon certainly go far in sustaining the proposition which it is your purpose to establish. One great object of the colonial charters was avowedly the propagation of the Christian faith. Means have been employed to accomplish this object, and those means have been used by government..." John Marshall continued: "No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the happiness of man even during his existence in this world. It has at all times employed his most serious meditation, and had a decided influence on his conduct. The American population is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it. Legislation on the subject is admitted to require great delicacy, because freedom of conscience and respect for our religion both claim our most serious regard. You have allowed their full influence to both. With very great respect, I am Sir, your Obedt., J. Marshall."