Monday, August 13, 2012

A Role Model for Defending the Accused

In 1770 British soldiers killed five civilians in a street confrontation in what became known as the Boston Massacre. The soldiers were arrested on criminal charges and accused. Needless to say, the soldiers had difficulty finding legal counsel to represent them. Finally, they asked John Adams to defend. He agreed, though he feared it would hurt his reputation. During their criminal trial, Adams made his now famous quote regarding making decisions based on the evidence: "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." Six of the soldiers were found not guilty and acquitted. Two soldiers who had fired directly into the crowd were charged with murder but were convicted only of manslaughter. Adams was paid eighteen guineas by the British soldiers . . . about the cost of a pair of shoes.

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