So Western Justice’s quote of the week – or is that quote of the month? – is currently:

“In my courtroom, day after day, I have seen the dregs of the community—and some of their clients, too."

I’ll admit it’s a bit amusing.  Everyone loves a good lawyer joke. Seems to be coming out of the mouth of a black robe, so I tried to do a little investigating and figure out where the quote came from.

Best I could do was this prosecutor’s website from Rush Limbaugh’s hometown Cape Girardeau (check out the elected DA in front of that Untouchables poster – oooooh) where he attributes it to “a retiring judge”. OK, so that means it’s probably apocryphal. 

Fair enough. From the other side of the fence I often see this quote down at the bottom of a defense lawyer’s email:

“We, as criminal defense lawyers, are forced to deal with some of the lowest people on earth, people who have no sense of right and wrong, people who will lie in court to get what they want, people who do not care who gets hurt in the process.

“It is our job – our sworn duty – as criminal defense lawyers, to protect our clients from those people.”

My cursory investigation showed that the author of this line – while often misspelled Cynthia Rosenberry – is more likely DePaul University College of Law faculty member and experienced trial lawyer Cynthia Roseberry.

I’m not a big fan of that one; it just comes off as too heavy handed. Yes, did I mention already that I know these are ‘jokes’ but that’s still my reaction to it.

My favorite in this vein has to be from Austin’s own, the late great Stuart Kinard:

“Protecting the Lord’s children who have fallen short of perfection from the wrath of those who believe they have attained it.”

Stuart worked at times for both the prosecution and the defense, but perhaps that’s why his variation on the theme is the best. As criminal defense lawyers, we don’t actually have to battle all prosecutors. Just the unreasonable ones.

  • I did in fact get the quote from the prosecutor you spoke of (Morley Swingle), from his book. However, I do not think the quote was attributed at that point either.

    Well, this is a long thanks for the doing the work that I didn’t do 🙂

    And I think your last paragraph is the perfect answer for public defenders to the question….now if they could only get the memo that not ALL prosecutors are unreasonable, my life would be easier.

  • Mr. Spencer

    I asked Professor Roseberry if she is the source of the quote and she confirmed that she is.

    Edward J. Jones
    Circuit Court Judge
    Multnomah County Courthouse
    1021 SW Fourth Ave.
    Portland, OR 97204

  • Jamie Graham

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