I very rarely handled criminal cases during my many years practicing law for a number of reasons.   I felt that it was a specialized area of the law that was best left to the experts and even though I handled many civil trials I did not feel comfortable with the unique rules and procedures of criminal trials.   Also, as a practical matter, few criminal defendants have enough money to finance a good defense or to pay you an adequate fee.

However, the most important reason that I never warmed up to criminal law was that I could not, in good conscience, provide a no holds barred, win at any cost defense to people I either knew or believed were guilty.   I am both amazed and perplexed by lawyers who can zealously represent defendants who are guilty of despicable crimes.

Even though this flies in the face of all of the jurisprudence I learned in law school and experienced as a practicing lawyer, I have in recent years developed a very pragmatic approach to the disposition of some criminal cases.   If the defendant, and I don’t mean alleged defendant, is caught red handed with the smoking gun in his hand such as seen in some of the most horrible school or workplace shootings or the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona, I suggest that the culprit be immediately incarcerated and sentenced.   We can skip the trial and the inevitable sob story defenses that tries the patience and credulity of most reasonable people.  I also don’t particularly think it should matter if the defendant is insane as that just makes him more dangerous so we can dispense with any insanity defenses.   Let’s face it most of these violent murderers are deranged in one way or another.

I would go even further.   Let’s take the case of the woman whose young daughter went missing and her disappearance was not reported for over a month.   Even then, there was a series of lies about her disappearance and only at trial does the defense attempt to raise doubt with various outlandish alternative stories.   I say, if it smells like murder, and in this case literally, if it feels like murder, and if common sense all points to murder, let’s just agree that she is guilty so that we can send her to her punishment.   Do we really need to indulge her with a prolonged trial and media circus just to see if the defense can confuse some aberrant juror into believing that up is down and wrong is right?   Sometimes, we should just let common sense prevail.

Sure, we do not want to convict or punish innocent people.   However, I propose the guilty as sin rule for those cases where there is no doubt, reasonable or otherwise, as to the guilt of the accused.   In those cases, we should expedite the process and dispense with ludicrous trials full of ‘red herrings’ and dubious excuses followed by the inevitable frivolous appeals and instead just give them the go straight to jail card.