Monroe Freedman passed away last week. He was 86 years old. Freedman was a giant in the field of "legal ethics," as a scholar, a teacher, and a lawyer. As his obituary in the NY Times discusses, he life's work was an exploration of the meaning of "zealous advocacy." In particular, Freedman was concerned with the responsibility of the criminal defense attorney, who is often the only line of defense between an individual and a government with vast resources. Should a defense attorney attempt to undermine the credibility of an opposing witness when he knows the witness is telling the truth? Should a defense attorney allow his client to testify when he believes that the client will commit purjury?
Freedman and Prof. Abbe Smith edited a collection of essays a few years ago called, "How Can You Represent Those People?" - the title is taken from the question most likely to be asked of criminal defense attorneys (and defenders of unpopular causes) at dinner parties.
Today, March 5, is the anniversary of the Boston Massacre. John Adams and his cousin Josiah Quincy defended the British soldiers who committed the killing of the five civilians and the injury of six others, and Adams later claimed that it was one of the things in his life of which he was most proud. In 2008, the ACLU and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers created the John Adams Project to provide defense attorneys for the high-value terrorist suspects at Guantanamo, including Ramzi Bin al-Shibh and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who were tortured by the United States government.
Rest in peace, Professor Freedman.