Intro to Professional Ethics
April 4 2015
The Lincoln Lawyer
Do the ethical standards that we live by on a daily basis change when one is sitting in a courtroom? Certainly the courtroom has its own set of standards and rules that clients and attorneys must abide by when conducting a trial, so is there any circumstance when one can be justified in breaking these rules? These are some key questions that one must ask themselves when watching The Lincoln Lawyer.
The movie’s main protagonist, Mickey Haller, is a criminal defense lawyer who happens to be caught between a rock and a hard place when he discovers that one of his clients is not the innocent man he claims to be. Haller is defending a man by the name of Louis Roulet who had recently been accused of assault against a young woman. The woman swears that Roulet was the man who assaulted her, but Roulet denies her quick accusations and instead makes the claim that he was set up by the woman and her boyfriend. He claims that this all was an elaborate scheme in order to take advantage of his financial opulence. Soon after Haller takes the case and begins to delve into the details, he discovers that Roulet is in fact the man that assaulted the young woman. It is also brought to Haller’s attention that this woman was not the only victim that Roulet subjected to such heinous crimes. There were in fact others, one of which was a victim in Haller’s previous cases in which the jurisdiction falsely condemned a man named Jesus Martinez for a murder that he did not commit. Feeling guilty for the fact that a previous client of his is serving time for a crime he did not commit, Haller contemplates how to enact revenge on Roulet for the crimes he committed and the people he hurt. However, it proves to be a difficult task for Haller to accomplish being that Roulet is his client now, and as his lawyer Haller has to maintain a certain sense of attorney-client confidentiality. At this point, we begin seeing several different ethical issues arise from the circumstances that Haller finds himself in.
When one is to sit back and examine the multitude of different ethical issues that present themselves in the movie, it seems as though they can all be placed into two distinct categories. The first category contains ethical issues that seem to be more controversial when looked at from a courtroom perspective. Throughout the movie these issues seem to originate mainly from Haller himself more so than anyone else. One specific ethical foul that he commits is by breaking the attorney-client confidentiality rule by disclosing confidential information regarding Roulet to two other characters, Margaret and Gloria. Gloria is perhaps the more significant because through her, Haller was able to convince another jailhouse inmate to commit perjury and testify in court against Roulet himself. Another big ethical mishap that Haller commits is when he lies to the judge for the sake of stalling the case so that he can receive his payment. He claims that the trial is missing a key witness in the case, “Mr. Green”, when in reality Mr. Green was a fictitious character created by Haller in an attempt to stall the case. Certainly lying and deception are viewed as unethical acts outside of the courtroom as well, but what Haller did here would be viewed as an extremely corrupt act when looked at from the courtroom perspective. When one is to take a step outside of the courtroom, they are also confronted with a plethora of ethical issues that present themselves throughout this movie. First, perhaps the most obvious being Roulet’s vicious crimes against multiple innocent individuals as well as Haller’s perceived attempt to hire a biker gang to enact a vicious punishment against Roulet himself. Another big issue that frequently presents itself throughout the movie is the ethical concern when it comes to deception. Not only is Haller guilty of this ethical breach but his...
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