So many times my family and I are confronted with questions about my husband’s criminal defense practice and why he chooses to represent unpopular clients. I watch as my husband defends the unpopular. He defends killers, rapists, and child abusers. He defends those accused of abusing animals and those accused of hate crimes. So how can he represent “those people?”
I watch as my husband aggressively and tirelessly defends his clients from arrest through appeal – no matter what. Along the way, he spends a great deal of time with the accused. And more often than not, he befriends them and finds humanity in those accused of the most heinous crimes.
An arrest is not a conviction.
It is not up to the police, media, or my husband to decide who is guilty. My husband’s job is not to judge or turn away from a horrible crime, but rather to provide assistance to the accused. It is the exclusive job of our judicial system to measure the guilt or innocence of a person, a system both my husband and I have dedicated our lives to fight for.
For Us, It Is Not A Choice
In his own words, Aaron explained:
So I guess the string of criticism for representing unpopular clients continue. I got some friendly messages warning me that people may perceive me as racist because I am representing men accused of a hate crime. I am not a racist or an animal abuser. Today we are doing a seminar on Professionalism and I was thinking about the role of representing unpopular people or causes and how that factors into professionalism or legal ethics. I responded to one detractor with, in part, the message below:
Lawyers do not endorse their clients behavior – we defend the integrity of the justice system. It is critical that the most despicable people be treated with fairness and due process because that is the true test of the system. It is easy to treat a minor offender fairly and to hold to the tenants of our Constitution. But it becomes much harder when the defendant is accused of something truly heinous.
A lawyer representing such a client does not endorse the behavior – far from it in fact. Instead, we recognize our Justice system must be constantly tested, tempered, and watched to make sure it is running correctly. Only with a properly running justice system can we insure that an innocent person is not convicted for expressing unpopular ideas or being on the wrong side of a political skirmish.
Truth be told, for years, sexism, and racism were entrenched in the Justice System and it took tremendous sacrifice and hardship on the part of brave lawyers to root out and destroy that corruption – and it is a never ending battle against these foes who rear their ugly head whenever we are lazy or overconfident. The Justice System is meant to be a means for a citizen to stand against the Government (originally the power of the Crown) and American lawyers (going back to John Adams’ defense of the British soldiers) have always defended unpopular causes or people because we believe in the rule of law and that it is essential to democracy.
In my experience, the jury system finds the guilty and they are punished. Sometimes innocent people are convicted. That terrifies me. So I strive every day to make sure our justice system “works” which means I often represent people accused of awful things. They are not me and their actions are not mine. What is mine, what I will own, is that I make sure they are treated fairly in Court so that I can be confident that other, less polarizing people, receive justice.
Aaron Delgado,the founder of Aaron Delgado & Associates, is a Florida Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, and beloved husband and father.
For more personal stories, checkout Why I Don’t Need A Lot Of Friends.