How can you defend a person you know is guilty? I have answered that question hundreds of times, never to my inquirer's satisfaction, and therefore never to my own. In recent years, I have more or less given up, abandoning the high-flown explanations of my youth, and resorting to a rather peevish: "Well, it's not for everybody. Criminal defense work takes a peculiar mind-set, heart-set, soul-set." While I still believe this, the mind-set might at least be more accessible through a better effort at explanation. First we will examine the nature of the question, then the possible answers. We must know, too, of whom the question is asked and what characterizes the attitudes held by the criminal defender. Moreover, the lawyer's discipline requires that we consider whether the right question is being asked. Finally, we look to the answer provided by the life of the most famous criminal defense lawyer of all: Clarence Darrow.
Barbara Allen Babcock, Defending the Guilty, 32 Clev. St. L. Rev. 175 (1983-1984)