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You are an attorney and are aware of a colleague who could be considered grossly incompetent

Ethical Dilemmas

Situation 1

Your first big case is a multiple murder. As defense attorney for Sy Kopath, you have come to the realization that he really did break into a couple’s home and torture and kill them in the course of robbing them of jewelry and other
valuables. He has even confessed to you that he did it. However, you are also aware that the police did not read him his Miranda warning and that he was coerced into giving a confession without your presence. What should you do?
Would your answer be different if you believed that he was innocent or didn’t know for sure?

Situation 2

You are completing an internship at a defense attorney’s office during your senior year in college. After graduation you plan to enter law school and pursue a career as an attorney, although you have not yet decided what type of
law to practice. Your duties as an intern are to assist the private practitioner you work for in a variety of tasks, including interviewing clients and witnesses, organizing case files, running errands, and photocopying. A case that you are helping with involves a defendant charged with armed robbery. One day while you are at the office, the defendant comes in and gives you a package for the attorney. In it you find a gun. You believe, but do not know for a fact, that the gun is the one used in the armed robbery.  When the attorney returns, he instructs you to return the package to the defendant.

What should you do? What should the attorney do?

Situation 3

You are an attorney and are aware of a colleague who could be considered grossly incompetent. He drinks and often appears in court intoxicated. He ignores his cases and does not file appropriate motions before deadlines expire. Any person who is unlucky enough to have him as a courtappointed attorney usually ends up with a conviction and a heavy sentence because he does not seem to care what happens to his clients and rarely advises going to trial. When he does take a case to trial, he is unprepared and unprofessional in the courtroom. You hear many complaints
from defendants about his demeanor, competence, and ethics. Everyone—defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges alike—knows this person and his failings, yet nothing is done.

Should you do something? If so, what?

Situation 4

You are a prosecutor in a jurisdiction that does not use the grand jury system. An elderly man has administered a lethal dose of sleeping tablets to his wife, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He calmly turned himself in to the police department, and the case is on the front page of the paper. It is entirely up to you whether to charge him with murder. What would you do? What criteria did you use to arrive at your decision?

Situation 5

You are a deputy prosecutor and have to decide  whether to charge a defendant with possession and sale of a  controlled substance. You know you have a good case because the guy sold drugs to students at the local junior high school, and many of the kids are willing to testify. The police are pressuring you to make a deal because he has promised to inform on other dealers in the area if you don’t prosecute.

What should you do?

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