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37 Duq. L. Rev. 573 (1998-1999)
Moral Disengagement and Lawyers: Codes, Ethics, Conscience, and Some Great Movies

handle is hein.journals/duqu37 and id is 583 raw text is: Moral Disengagement and Lawyers:
Codes, Ethics, Conscience, and Some Great Movies
Marianne M Jennings*
The prosecution is not going to get him because I am. My
client is guilty and he deserves to go to jail.'
The quote is from the opening statement of lawyer Arthur
Kirkland, an ethically troubled soul, in the film And Justice for All.
Kirkland/Pacino was not ethically troubled in the sense of
disciplinary rule (DR) violations;2 he was having trouble with the
notion of moral disengagement.3 Pacino had fairly solid evidence
that the defendant he was representing in the case was indeed
guilty.4 But Pacino was pressured5 into representing a guilty and
* The author is Professor of Legal and Ethical Studies and Director of the Joan and
David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, at the College of Business, Arizona State University,
in Tempe, Arizona The author is grateful for the assistance of Martin Karpuk in the research
for this article.
1. Arthur Kirkland, Defense Attorney (Al Pacino), AND JUSTICE FOR ALL (Columbia
Pictures Corp. 1979).
2. Although part of the plot of the film does involve a state bar investigation of
Kirkland (with the State Bar represented by Christine Lahti, who switched drama careers
from lawyering to doctoring in the 90s in Chicago Hope). Ethically troubled is used here in
the moral sense, not the state bar sense. As well all know, the model rules and code of
Professional Responsibility (DRs) have absolutely nothing to do with ethics. See, Marianne
M. Jennings, The Model Rules and the Code of Profession Responsibility Have Absolutely
Nothing To Do With Ethics: The Wally Cleaver Proposition as an Alternative 1996 Wis. L
Rav. 1223 (1996).
3. Moral disengagement is defined infra note 12. It's a philosophical and intellectual
term that could perhaps lead a reader to believe he/she has encountered an intellectual
author. The author felt it best to allow the illusion to remain for at least eight footnotes.
4. Solid evidence is defined here to be his client confessing to him that he did rape
and beat the victim and, in fact, as the client explained to attorney Kirkland, would like to
do it again. Nothing like an honest, albeit brutal, client.
5. It seems that Pacino/Kirkland had disclosed another client's desire to commit
another crime, hence Christine Lahti and pressure from the State Bar to have Crackerjack
Kirkland represent the very bad judge. The film is loosey goosey with DRs but, in
Hollywood, Larry Flynt looks like Woody Hareison, too. Reality is, in many films, a victim.
See, e.g., Sally Field in NoRmA RAE (Twentieth Century Fox 1979), where she played a poor
Southern textile worker who unionized most of the South. The story is true, it's just that it
was hard to see Gidget and the flying nun in the struggle of the human condition. Also,
recalling her role with Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit (Universal Pictures 1977)
did not lend credibility.


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