Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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What if all the world was against you except one person? Who would you want that person to be?

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | February 19, 2018

No. 1,423

That’s the situation that Nicholas Cruz finds himself facing.  Of course, it is of his own doing and he has already confessed.  Under our system of justice, however, he has a right to competent counsel, even if he cannot afford it — which he can’t. We do this, not to give him some undeserved chance, but to be as certain as we can that we have it right.

I heard some criticism that his court-appointed public defender hugged him on the shoulder at the moment they walked into the arraignment and the full force of what was happening must have washed over him like a tidal wave.  In that moment, she told him that she was on his side.

There is nothing wrong here.  That’s her job.  If you or I were dragged into court, wouldn’t we want to know that the lawyer representing us was diligently working for us?   I would.

Nicholas Cruz is not going to escape justice (or whatever modicum of it may be possible in a circumstance like this) because he is represented by counsel.  The system works best when both sides are properly represented.

Being a public defender is a mostly thankless and poorly compensated job.  But, for our criminal justice system to work properly, somebody must present whatever defense there may be and do it properly.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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