The State has the obligation to present the evidence. Defense counsel need present nothing, even if he knows what the truth is. He need not furnish any witnesses to the police, or reveal any confidences of his client, or furnish any other information to help the prosecution’s case. If he can confuse a witness, even a truthful one, or make him appear at a disadvantage, unsure or indecisive, that will be his normal course. Our interest in not convicting the innocent permits counsel to put the State to its proof, to put the State’s case in the worst possible light, regardless of what he thinks or knows to be the truth.
Make no mistake, if you are charged with a serious crime you need someone who will fight for you. Whether you did it or not, you have an enormous arsenal of rights that you can bring to bear when some lawyer employed by a district attorney’s office or a U.S. Attorney’s office claims you committed a crime.
But it takes more than someone who “knows the law” to bring these rights to bear…. The law books are chock full of cases where prosecutors have hidden evidence, law enforcement officers have misrepresented facts, and judges have made erroneous rulings, and these people can be quite happy to tell each other, you, your lawyer and your jury what they think they need to tell them to convict you. You need a lawyer who will professionally but forcefully insure that you enjoy the benefits of the law, challenge “the evidence”, and refuse to be intimidated by the system.
If there is one thing to remember about the search for truth and your need for forceful representation in the American criminal justice system, it is this observation from the justices of our own U.S. Supreme Court, justices who review countless criminal cases every year:
Power is a heady thing; and history shows that the police acting on their own cannot be trusted.
*McDonald v. United States, 335 U.S. 451, 445-456, 69 S.Ct. 191, 193, 93 L.Ed. 153 (1948).