Defense attorneys must provide their clients with competent legal services even if they believe their clients are guilty of the criminal offenses they are charged with. In this Focus on Ethics scenario, the defense attorney has uncovered material that suggests the assistant district attorney has overlooked important evidence that can place the defendant at the scene of the crime. Additionally, the defense attorney may receive a promotion for winning the case.

Video source: FBI on YouTube

1. Is the killing of a police officer a more serious offense than the killing of a citizen?

2. Does the defense attorney have an obligation to see that the truth is uncovered in a case of this magnitude?

3. Do the comments from former FBI director James B. Comey in this video about his difficulties in talking with police chiefs who have lost officers in the line of duty change your opinion about the responsibilities of defense attorneys representing “cop killers?”

4. If you were a defense attorney, would you feel comfortable representing someone accused of killing a police officer?