7 U. Bridgeport L. Rev. 223 (1986)
Defending Guilty People

handle is hein.journals/qlr7 and id is 231 raw text is: UNIVERSITY of
Volume 7
Number 2         LAW
1986             REVIEW
by John Kaplan*
I would like to address an often asked, many times an-
swered, but still extremely complex question: Why would law-
yers want to defend guilty people? I will try to do so by examin-
ing first a somewhat different issue: Why should society as a
whole want guilty people to be represented by lawyers?
This issue can be approached from three quite different
vantages. The first means of approach is to ask two related ques-
tions: Why do we want lawyers to represent criminal defendants
at all? and, second, How does this rationale change in the case
when we know that the defendant is guilty? The second of our
vantages involves an investigation into the meaning of know-
ing a defendant is guilty and the epistemology of how this
knowledge may be acquired. The third seeks perspective by ask-
ing what should be the consequences of an attorney's knowledge
that the client is guilty. These three basic issues are intimately
* Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law, Stanford Law School. This article is
adapted from an address given at the University of Bridgeport honoring Law Day. This
research was supported by the Stanford Legal Research Fund, made possible by a be-
quest from Ira S. Lillick, and by gifts from other friends of Stanford Law School.

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