San Francisco defenders demonstrate the importance of zealous advocacy

BY Jon Mosher on Friday, January 28, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Our American system of justice presumes that law enforcement officials are human, and thus fallible.  Despite the overall dedication and professionalism of the hundreds of thousands of citizens employed in the police and prosecution functions in this country, it is simply impossible to always arrest and prosecute the right defendant for the right crime in every single instance.  If errorless law enforcement existed, there would be no need for a jury of one’s peers to weigh the evidence in a case before an impartial judge.

Because American jurisprudence is based on an adversarial court process, competent defense lawyers are necessary to scrutinize and challenge the arresting officers’ tactics, the police investigation, the lawfulness of any searches and seizures, the credibility of the evidence, and the district attorney’s theory of the case to improve the overall quality and effectiveness of law enforcement itself.  Arguably, it is because of a strong adversarial process that the United States is in the forefront of cutting edge public safety technologies -– like DNA evidence –- that help to exonerate the innocent while convicting the guilty.
As reported in the Bay Cty News (via the SFAppeal), that critical role of the defense attorney appears to be working in San Francisco. "According to the public defender's office, of its 168 trials in 2010, 36 percent resulted in not-guilty verdicts, and in 12 percent, juries were unable to reach a unanimous decision."

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