Criminal Defense Lawyer Files Request to Be Called “Defender of the Innocent” Instead of “Lawyer”


In response to a state motion to ban the use of the word “government” during a criminal trial, Tennessee criminal defense lawyer Drew Justice filed a response in which he requested that he be referred to as “Defender of the Innocent,” and that his client be called “the Citizen Accused.” See Tennessee v. Powell, No. I-CR-086639-B, Circuit Court for Williamson County, State of Tennessee. Arguing that the state offered “precisely zero legal authority for its rather nitpicky position,” the filing contends that the First Amendment permits the reference. In the alternative, it argues that if the parties are permitted to “pick their own designations and ban words, then the defense has a few additional suggestions for amending the speech code”:

  • “The word ‘defendant’ should be banned. At trial, Mr. Powell hereby demands be addressed only by his full name, preceded by the title ‘Mister.’ Alternatively, he may be called simply ‘the Citizen Accused.’ This latter title sounds more respectable than the criminal ‘Defendant.’ The designation ‘That innocent man’ would also be acceptable.”
  • “Moreover, defense counsel does not wish to be referred to as a ‘lawyer,’ or a ‘defense attorney.’ Those terms are substantially more prejudicial than probative. See Tenn. R. Evid. 403. Rather, counsel for the Citizen Accused should be referred to primarily as the ‘Defender of the Innocent.’ This title seems particularly appropriate, because every Citizen Accused is presumed innocent. Alternatively, counsel would also accept the designation ‘Guardian of the Realm.'”
  • “Along these same lines, even the term ‘defense’ does not sound very likeable. The whole idea of being defensive, comes across to most people as suspicious. So to prevent the jury from being unfairly misled by this ancient English terminology, the opposition to the Plaintiff hereby names itself ‘the Resistance.'”

It concludes: “WHEREFORE, Captain Justice, Guardian of the Realm and Leader of the Resistance, primarily asks that the Court deny the State’s motion, as lacking legal basis. Alternatively, the Citizen Accused moves for an order in limine modifying the speech code as aforementioned, and requiring any other euphemisms and feel-good terms as the Court finds appropriate.”

Well done.

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