Selling Out Our Clients

I came across a disturbing story about a lawyer who is running for election to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The lawyer, Randy Koschnick, was a former public defender who represented a “cop killer” and now the “cop killer” is endorsing Mr. Koschnick in his bid for a seat on the state’s highest court. So what’s the problem? Well I guess I don’t see one, but Mr. Koschnick does. Apparently, Koschnick wants to distance himself from his former client who is now supporting his candidacy to the state supreme court. Koschnick said of his former client, “He is free to say whatever he wants, but his endorsement is no honor to me.” I don’t like this, at all. So now lawyers are supposed to have shame for their work, but only if the work is unpopular (i.e., defending “cop killers”). I guess I understand the public relations problem for Mr. Koschnick having previously defended a “cop killer,” but I don’t agree with how he handled the matter. In my opinion, he should own up to his work rather than trying to hide from it. As lawyers, we all take an oath to defend and uphold the constitution. This includes defending it even for those accused of crimes. Perhaps it is nice for the corporate lawyers to get their endorsements for representing companies and banks. Maybe their oath is different than mine. I don’t think so. It never ceases to amaze me how people AND OTHER LAWYERS react when I tell them that I’m helping a convicted felon, a murderer, or a rapist. Why would you do that, they wonder? Well, its really easy for me, because those unpopular people are entitled to lawyers too. We don’t give constitutional rights to just some people, and we don’t selectively decide whose constitutional rights to protect. Mr. Koschnick was doing just that when he was a public defender, and that is admirable indeed, or at least in my book which may not be read by all but should be. I hope somebody smacks me the day that I feel shame for representing the unpopular client. Isn’t that why lady justice is blind?

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6 Responses to Selling Out Our Clients

  1. Justice says:

    Geoffrey,

    I am following this story locally and you are missing something here. The endorsement of Oswald toward Koschnick’s “campaign” is what he said is no honor to him. He has the exact same philosophy as you stated you like above, with regard to the constitution providing council to those that cannot afford it themselves. He was proud to perform that role. Let’s not confuse those two totally separate and unrelated issues. He never said he was ashamed to represent him in the courtroom all those years ago and I know he is very proud of his PD career for just the reasons you mentioned. I am sure you would agree that you can be proud of your constitutionally ordered work as a PD representing a client in the courtroom and yet not “love” every person for what they did on a personal level…if that is the case you are making, that would be hard for most to believe, and a little sick to say the least..

  2. Michael Dezsi says:

    Justice,

    Thank you for your comment. Certainly there are many ways to interpret Mr. Koschnick’s statement regarding “no honor,” but it seems to me that there is “honor” in Oswald’s endorsement under any interpretation. I think what Oswald [Koschnick’s former client, the “cop killer”] is saying is something like “hey, this guy is a great lawyer who zealously defended me as he should and he would make a great judge.” To me, there is only honor in such a recognition, regardless of the source. It requires no discussion of whether we “love” our clients. It never reaches that point. Koschnick should find a way to own this honor to his advantage for the election. By the way, Mr. Fieger was not responsible for this post so please do not assume the post reflects his viewpoint. It is mine alone, unless and until Geoffrey wishes to endorse my words, which only he can do.

  3. Maxine says:

    Michael, you said “Mr. Fieger was not responsible for this post…” Just clarifying he did not write the original blog post entitled Selling out our clients?

  4. Maxine says:

    The purpose of a blog is to have the original blog posts written by you. They are supposed to represent your thoughts. I don’t think it is proper etiquette to have substitute bloggers in your absence.

  5. Michael Dezsi says:

    Maxine,

    You are correct. Mr. Fieger did not write the blog entry entitled “Selling Out Our Clients” At the end of this post, it indicates that it was posted by Michael Dezsi. Mr. Fieger asked me to contribute to the Fieger Times blog. As such, you will notice that several of the blog entries are posted under my name. Mr. Fieger’s entries are posted under his own name. Sorry for the confusion. I hope you will continue reading the blog.

  6. Maxine says:

    I’ll pass on your contributions. No offense meant, but when you come to a blog with Geoffrey Fieger’s Blog, you are here to read his thoughts.

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