Because I Love It.

“How do you sleep at night putting in toilets for pedophiles?”

-Things nobody ever says to plumbers.

“I could never do what you do… you help drunk drivers save money on taxes so they can buy more beer.”

-Something accountants never hear.

“How does it feel knowing you sell hardware to criminals?”

-Questions the guy at Home Depot doesn’t have to answer at social gatherings.

How Can You Defend Criminals And Sleep At Night?

From where I stand, it’s odd that other people don’t get asked the same questions I do. Sex offenders have carpet. Drunk drivers use accountants. Murderers get haircuts.

How come nobody asks the rest of the world about their interaction with criminals and how they better the lives of people who do bad things?

I know, I know. It’s different. I make a living “lying” in court and keeping people I know are guilty out of prison. You’re just selling insurance to whomever needs it. Surely you wouldn’t if you knew they were criminals.  You don’t know they’re guilty. You have morals.

Except I don’t know they’re guilty. Especially when they’ve just walked in my door and I have only their side of the story (which typically has them being completely not guilty, or is often filled with “I don’t remember that detail” if it doesn’t). I damn sure don’t lie in court, either- it’s hard to pay the mortgage when you’re in jail for contempt.


When I first started I’d get offended when people asked how I helped those people.  I developed a long-winded answer about the constitution, and how the entire system fails when we don’t constantly test it.  Long-winded answers are never good, but the system is complicated.

There are really only two reasons people would ask that question, though. The first is ignorance. They have no realistic idea of how the system is set up to work. Or they don’t understand that even if the system weren’t set up as it were there are all kinds of political, monetary, and social forces skewing the “search” for the “truth.”

Ignorance of the system makes sense- especially to people who have never been exposed to it in any appreciable way.

The second reason, of course, is that people understand it but they’re jaded folks who hate the constitution or our system of justice. There’s no answer I could give that would satisfy them, though.  They’re just asking for the banter.

Cash Rules Everything Around Me.

What’s even more offensive than the question is the standard, canned answer from some defense attorneys.  “It’s my job” or “somebody has to do it.”  That’s the type of thing you say when you’re digging the pit over which you’re building an outhouse. “I’m digging this because that’s my job.”

It’s a terrible answer.

We’re not talking about outhouses. We’re talking about people’s lives.  Sadly, however, “just doing my job” is something that the general public can identify with, and will usually be accepted as a legitimate answer.

I can probably come up with 100 quick reasons why I do this job, but the dispassionate pursuit of money won’t make that list.  I don’t care if that’s an acceptable answer, either.  It’s not my answer.

It Really Doesn’t Matter If You Get It.

So, when people challenge how we can do this job and sleep at night I don’t give that long-winded answer about the constitution anymore. I don’t talk about the constitution. I don’t talk about how it’s necessary. I don’t talk about how it’s my “job” either.

In my head I think to myself that they probably don’t understand the way it all works. They don’t understand the mess of a system created by the extrajudicial political or financial forces.  They don’t know exactly what’s going on and, in a way, they’re part of what I’m trying to push back against.

That might be what I think. It’s not what I say.  What do I say now? Why do I defend the accused?

Because I love it. Its fun. I’d rather do this than put in their plumbing.

Author: matthaiduk

Matt Haiduk is a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois. He loves his dog. And pizza.

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