Does a zealous defense necessarily include letting clients know about our internal struggles, if any? I was never a prosecutor. I have always had the ability to interact with the accused and keep their confidences. As a result, I usually feel as though I have the whole story and that the prosecutor is missing a big piece (in some cases this is more true than others). Whenever I see a prosecutor who recently left their office, I wonder whether the transition is difficult and whether they are finding themselves still putting on the shoes of a prosecutor. Are they able to truly think like a defense attorney?
Recently, I was at a conference and felt comfortable enough with the recent defense attorney to inquire about the transition. He shrugged and said, “I worked for a defense firm prior to being a prosecutor.” He was well aware of the defense side beforehand, which might explain why he was such a reasonable prosecutor.
On the other hand, I spoke to another person who has shown some interest in becoming a defense attorney, but is currently still a prosecutor. He told me that he has asked many questions of former prosecutors. In one case, the prosecutor took 2 years in transitioning into a defense attorney; she found it very difficult. Now, she is the epitome of a defense attorney, but she initially struggled. What about her clients over the course of a two-year transition? I could not help but wonder whether, during those two years that she struggled, if she ever sold out a defendant in some unknown manner. Or was it all a conscience issue?
Nevertheless, if I were her client, I would want to know she was struggling with her role to defend me. I would want to know to ask some follow up questions. I would want to know that she was having difficulty with her role.