The public has been enamored by criminal law attorneys since Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus Finch remains a pinnacle force, not only in legal circles, but in all of literature. His character spurred on an ongoing obsession by the general public into the world of criminal law. The fictional character of Atticus Finch has even influenced many prominent attorneys and judges to enter the legal field, and spurred an ongoing media obsession with criminal law, leading to TV series, countless John Grisham books, and legal thriller movies.
Atticus Finch embodies the idealistic attorney, one who represents a client who no one else wants. He is in part molded by heroic attorneys in history, the most notable being John Adams. John Adams is known for many things, including his role as the second president of the newly formed United States, but few remember him as the attorney who defended British soldiers after the Boston Massacre of 1770. John Adams accepted his unpopular clients with the firm belief that “no man in a free country should be denied the right to counsel and a fair trial.” John Adams paved the way for the modern criminal law attorney and the depiction of criminal law attorneys throughout literature.
This idealistic and moralistic stem of criminal law attorneys worked its way throughout U.S. history into the twentieth century with the formation of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization which frequently defends controversial clients, even representing a Nazi group in 1978. The most modern idealistic criminal law attorneys who still pull from the integrity of John Adams represent the most controversial figures in the media. Criminal law attorneys fight for their clients with the zeal and conviction that their clients are innocent and should be afforded the full range of options.
The fictional character of Atticus Finch pulls from this ideal by representing Tom Robinson, an African American man accused of raping a white woman during the time of the civil rights movement. Similar to John Adams, Atticus Finch believed that it was his duty to defend Tom Robinson to the best of his abilities. This type of attorney has frequently been used in a number of modern literature and film, most notably in John Grisham’s A Time to Kill. Jake Brigance is the criminal law attorney in this storyline, who defends an African American man in the Deep South accused of killing two white men. The criminal law attorney is again unpopular in the community which is fueled by long-lasting racism. He receives death threats throughout the trial, but continues to represent the client, reminiscent of John Adam’s representation.
Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and Irving criminal law attorneys frequently find themselves representing hardened criminals and defendants who have already attracted the scorn of the Dallas and Tarrant county community. However, as criminal law attorneys, they took an oath to uphold the law to the best of their abilities and protect their clients’ rights.
All criminal law attorneys may not be known as the next John Adams or Atticus Finch, but each deserve the same recognition that these historic and literary figures have received. Not every person can defend a client with so much public hatred, even receive death threats themselves unless they truly believe in the fairness of the legal system.