In Defense of the Devil’s Advocate

 In Articles, Symposium

Among the many controversial positions for which Monroe Freedman advocated during his illustrious career, the one that I find most surprising and uncharacteristic is his contention that lawyers who undertake morally questionable representations have a duty to explain or justify their choice of client. Specifically, in 1993, Professor Freedman penned a well-known column in the Legal Times—entitled Must You Be the Devil’s Advocate?—in which he took Professor Michael Tigar to task for his representation of reputed Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk. Professor Freedman tacitly criticized Professor Tigar for his client choice and expressly called upon him to publicly justify why he was willing to dedicate his training, knowledge, and “extraordinary skills as a lawyer” to someone as universally reviled as Demjanjuk. Such an inquiry was appropriate, according to Professor Freedman, because a decision regarding whom a lawyer is willing to represent is one “for which the lawyer can properly be held morally accountable, in the sense of being under a burden of public justification.”

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