AuthorDavid Layton; Michel Proulx
What should criminal defence counsel do when a client wants her to
take posses sion of a thumb drive containing document s that are re-
lated to the charged crime but might help in mounting a defence? Can
a lawyer refuse to negotiate a plea de al for a client who wants to cooper-
ate with the prosecution, on the ground th at “snitches” sometimes fab-
ricate evidence to save their own sk in, and helping one might be bad for
business? When, if ever, can a lawyer jointly act for multiple accused
in the same case? Can defence counsel override a client’s instructions
regarding which witnesses to call at tr ial? To what extent can a pros-
ecutor get involved in a police service’s pre-charge investigation of a
crimina l matter? In preparing a witness to te stify, can Crown counsel
draw the witnes s’s attention to other evidence in the case that appears
inconsistent with the w itness’s testimony, and ask for an explanation?
These diff‌icult questions offer just a sm attering of the broad range
of ethical issues t hat lawyers face in t he practice of crimina l law. They
engage a complex range of duties, sometimes seemingly inconsonant,
that a lawyer owes to t he client and the administ ration of justice. Such
duties are closely connected to the law yer’s special role in the crim-
inal justice system, a role ref‌lected in eth ical standards adopted by the
legal profession. At the same time, law yers often bring to bear p ersonal
conceptions of justice that help to shape their singular role as advo-
cates. To make matters more complicated still, lawyers a re commonly

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