Going Deep into the Issue of Criminal Advocacy

Treschel identifies the inherent possibility for miscarriages of justice, especially in criminal trials, where the public prevailing opinion against the individual which may be propagated through the media or public opinion, or even political motivation and advocate machinations, may deem the individual to be guilty before he/she has actually been discovered to be so through due process of law.2 Advocacy that is geared towards misrepresentation of facts through an appeal to the emotions of the jury members or by browbeating a witness3 is a reprehensible aspect that introduces unfairness to one or the other party and distorts the facts of the case. While criminal advocacy mandates an understanding of human nature and a gift for deduction of the facts4 the client-centred approach can sometimes focus exclusively on the client/defendant’s problems results in lawyers acting in an immoral way and being indifferent to the morality of the law or the need to maintain ethical standards in the practice of law.5 This may seriously undermine the fairness of trials and result in suppression, manipulation or fabrication of evidence or unfair trials where a miscarriage of justice can occur.

In a criminal trial, the role of the advocate for the defence is to provide the best possible support and defence to ensure that if his client is guilty, such guilt is established beyond any reasonable doubt. One example of a miscarriage of justice that occurred through improper judicial procedure, presentation of evidence and improper disclosure of relevant information is the sentence that was imposed upon a young boy named Fergus in 1991. He was identified in court by a person who was four years older, but the truth was that the boy was innocent in this case. Two years later, he appealed the conviction in Court6 and this time, his advocate was able to point out that certain evidence had remained undisclosed, contrary to the common law of disclosure as enunciated in the case of R v Ward7.Thus it was determined that a miscarriage of justice had taken place and that the boy Fergus had been wrongly convicted because the plea of the advocates for the prosecution to question the witness was granted since the defendant’s advocate failed to represent his best interests and ask for an identification parade.&nbsp.&nbsp.