The question criminal defense attorneys are most frequently asked is, "How can you defend that guy?" The answer is that our judicial system is not perfect. There is frequently a rush to judgment, police and prosecutors do not always play by the rules, and innocent people are sent to prison.
The pressure to hold someone accountable when a terrible crime has been committed often corrupts the process. The rush to judgment is nothing new. In the 1940 novel, The Ox-Bow Incident, by Walter Van Tilberg Clark, cattle rustling riles a Nevada town and everyone wants to catch the thieves. Three people are caught. The posse, led by the mayor, does not want the rustlers to escape through the courts, so the three men are hanged without a trial. Riding back into town, the posse meets the sheriff, who tells them they had hanged innocent men.
Today, the media fans the flames of indignation in the court of public opinion. The sexual abuse allegation against French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn should be a vivid reminder of how dangerous the rush to judgment can be. In that case, the hotel housekeeper who accused Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault lied about being a rape victim in Guinea on her asylum application and was recorded talking to an imprisoned friend about exploiting Strauss-Kahn's wealth. The case collapsed, but not before Strauss-Kahn was convicted and condemned by the morally outraged public.