Selling Out Our Clients

February 18, 2009

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?