Of Cabbages and Kings

November 16, 2006

Jethmalani and the Cab-rank rule

Filed under: Law, Personal — Chinmayi @ 4:12 pm

Mumbai girl’s post on Manu Sharma’s right to defence got me thinking about some legal-ethics related skirmishes that we had at law school.

I agree with her. An adverserial system works only if both sides are presented before the judge – the lawyer’s is to defend, and the judge’s…well, to judge. This does not mean that I would lie for a client, or do anything else that I considered unethical. It just means that my client, be he the most despicable of the diabolic scum that crawls the earth, has certain rights. And that it would be my duty as a lawyer to ensure that those rights are respected – to ensure that he is not convicted if there is no evidence, that he is not arrested without observance of procedure, that he does not receive a dispropotionate punishment and so on. And a lawyer who does this zealously makes sure that the system works a little better – she’s working towards a world where  no one is convicted on flimsy evidence, where no one is tortured and so on. So I wouldn’t insist that lawyers defend only the ‘good guy’* – defending the ‘bad guy’ is really important.

I miss being a lawyer so very much.

*This doesn’t mean that I condone Mr. Jethmalani’s methods of defence in the Jessica Lall case – I’m just saying that defending a criminal per se isn’t wicked at all, it’s a question of how you go about defending him



  1. You say you miss being a lawyer-were you one?

    Comment by MumbaiGirl — November 16, 2006 @ 7:26 pm

  2. I’ve never actually practiced, but I was trained to be lawyer…I loved thinking like one. I’ve sort of stepped out of the field for a bit and I miss the rhythm, and vastness, and lightning speed…and oh all the rules of that world.

    Comment by Contrary Mary — November 17, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  3. I’ve stepped out too!

    Comment by MumbaiGirl — November 19, 2006 @ 12:46 am

  4. You have? Did you ever practice?

    Comment by Contrary Mary — November 19, 2006 @ 5:52 pm

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