The April 2014 issue of The Champion, magazine of the National Association Of Criminal Defense Lawyers, suggests a fascinating new approach to a touchy subject — defense outreach to victims and survivors. Ethical defense outreach is consistent with fair play and Due Process. Performed with integrity and sensitivity, it can have numerous benefits. Main points:
· Objectively, defense lawyers seldom benefit strategically by treating victims callously or failing to acknowledge the harm done them. Consistent with ethics, wise defense litigators can approach the victim and share information about the client in a way that encourages openness and interaction. This includes fielding questions from the victim in a straightforward fashion.
· Defense outreach to victims can lessen hostility and even begin to break down stereotypes about slippery defense counsel. Extending appropriate courtesies to victims can reduce the adversarial nature of the process.
· Victim outreach creates an opportunity for the defense to evaluate the degree to which survivor wishes — rather than prosecutorial aggressiveness – drive the prosecution
· Perhaps the best approach is to use a friendly paralegal, who can act as a neutral party with the victim, helping to counter those over-percussive and often-vindictive military Victim Advocates..