How far should lawyers go when they’re defending a client for murder, a client that is obviously guilty? The legal obligation is clear, but isn’t there also an ethical obligation to see that a murderer is kept off the streets?
Lorinda Rivers is a public defender and a highly competitive woman who does not like to lose…Kevin Jensen is a man who’s facing the death penalty after being charged with the brutal murder of his ex-girlfriend…his fingerprints are on the murder weapon, there’s an incriminating videotape, and he’s already confessed, so there isn’t any real doubt as to his guilt…But when Kevin begins to go back on his voluntary confession, refuses to consider a plea deal, and demands a jury trial, Lorinda is faced with a difficult moral dilemma. Should she ignore her conscience and defend Kevin aggressively, even if it means that he might go free?
And then, as the trial approaches, Lorinda begins to have an affair with Preston Ryder, the crime writer at the local newspaper. Lorinda’s husband has become physically abusive, and it doesn’t take her long to become involved with the handsome, well-spoken, entertaining new man in her life. Preston, because of his job at the newspaper, is interested in the Jensen case, and he offers Lorinda some interesting insights, both practical and philosophical, into her moral dilemma.
The following excerpt is from Chapter 19.
However, as she continued to think about it, Lorinda discovered another problem with having Kevin tried before a jury. What if, somehow, Jensen walked? Granted, it seemed an impossibility now, but what if it were to happen? Did she really want this guy cruising around the streets of the city where she lived? Hardly. And wouldn’t this be a plague on her conscience: I was the lawyer who tricked the jury into acquitting Kevin Jensen. It’s true, of course, that he might murder another woman someday, but that’s none of my concern…unless it happens to be one of my daughters.
Considering the issue hypothetically, she tried to imagine what it would be like to defend a serial killer. Suppose, she thought, there was a way to invalidate all the prosecutor’s evidence–a minute technicality based on form, such as a search warrant that didn’t have a valid signature. And she–Lorinda, the lawyer–was the only one who knew about the flaw in the search warrant.
Then what? Parade around triumphantly in the courtroom and gloat as the judge dismissed the case. And then, one night, years later, it might not be one of her daughters but maybe she would be the one to be raped, the one to be strangled to death by the very man she had so righteously set free.
Of course, Kevin hadn’t murdered thirty people, but he had murdered one person, and anyone who was capable of crossing that line was surely capable of crossing it again. So, fundamentally, the problem was this: If one has a conscience, how does one fight for a murderer’s freedom? Fall back on the innocent until proven guilty mantra? Lorinda couldn’t help but sympathize with the prosecutor. What if it had been her responsibility to prosecute Jensen? She could see herself cutting a few corners to get this guy executed. The movies generally created defense lawyers who were noble, misunderstood creatures battling overwhelming odds as they fought for their wrongfully accused clients. But what if you were defending the likes of Kevin Jensen? What kind of movie would that make?
Still, it was her duty to defend him, and she could not be entirely traitorous to her sworn pledge to represent him to the best of her abilities. Then again, even though the law was important, it didn’t transcend common sense and genuine human considerations. Lorinda didn’t enjoy making compromises, but after thinking it over carefully, she came to the conclusion that she could only fight for Kevin’s life–not his innocence. As dubious as that might sound from a legal point of view, it was the best that she could do.
Targeted Age Group: 20-80
Book Price: $0.99
Over the past seven years (since I retired at the age of 60), I’ve written five novels, all of which you can find in the Kindle Store. What I am attempting to do in my books, besides writing entertaining and original plots, is to present themes and dilemmas that are thought provoking and don’t have any easy, simplistic answers. I do my very best to fairly present both sides of an issue–such as having a negative character express my own personal views, while a more positive character will express intelligent opposition to those views. All of this occurs, of course, in relation to the plots that are contained in the books, which are intended to mirror or illustrate the underlying philosophy. For instance, in The Road Map to the Universe, the protagonist feels that because the universe is so enormous, our lives here on earth are meaningless and that we all suffer from taking ourselves far too seriously. Do humans really have any significance, or is that just a self-serving illusion of the ego? And then, when the plot is resolved, one realizes that many of the incidents that occurred during the book were essentially mirages created by ego-driven motivations. There! I’ve just given you an important clue to solving the murder mystery that is at the center of this book.
I spend a great deal of time revising my novels. After finishing the first draft, I go through the book about ten times–first page to last page. Each journey through the book is slow and painstaking–no more than ten or fifteen pages a day. Sometimes, one or two pages will take a whole day. From my experience, the kind of errors that pop up on some of the later readings can be rather surprising, if not downright alarming! I particularly look for inaccurate punctuation, repetitive sentence structure, and inaccurate or repetitive vocabulary; however, you will not need a dictionary to read my books. I also do not permit unclear sentences to stand–I can’t imagine that any reader will want to read a sentence twice because I couldn’t find a way to explain myself.
I also spent numerous hours formatting these novels so that they would convert to Kindle. As you probably all know, it isn’t just a matter of hitting the upload button, and all I can say is that these books (after doing this, that, and the other thing) looked great on the Kindle Previewer, so I’m hopeful that they converted properly. My thanks to Charles Spender and his $0.99 book, Formatting of Kindle Books, which was quite helpful.
For those who are interested, The Voice of the Victim is either the best or the worst of these five novels–it all depends on your point of view.
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