Does anyone know of any good books on Catholic Legal Ethics? That is…Catholic Ethics when it comes to the practice of law (specifically in the U.S.). For example, some questions that would be raised might be:
-Is it ethical to defend your client using the authority of a case which you consider unjust?
(E.g. a hospital may or may not have negligently allowed an unborn child to die; is it unethical for the lawyer to cite Roe v. Wade and other pro-abortion cases in an argument that the state’s laws do not consider the unborn child a person?)
-Is it ethical to handle the last will and testament of someone who will be giving money away, in their will, to a satanist cult, or to planned parenthood, and to direct the money to those groups as the deceased person wishes?
-Is it ethical to engage in legal tactics that will incur costs on the opposite side, primarily for the purpose of incurring those costs and only with a very low chance that the tactic would result in something beneficial for the legal process? (e.g. requesting that each and every employee of the other side’s company be interviewed extensively to obtain information only vaguely related to the case).
-Is it ethical to suppress evidence that could change the outcome of the case? (For example, the police search a warehouse without a warrant, and find 4 tons of cocaine; but you argue that the evidence can’t be used because the police did not obtain it properly; as a result your client takes a plea bargain so that he only has to pay a $100 fine, and does not go to jail).
You have to remember that ethically you must do all within the law to defend your client. Your first ethical duty is to the court; the second to your client. Your own opinion; as to the morality of a valid legal precedent; the guilt or otherwise of your client, has nothing to do with your duty as a lawyer. The rules of Evidence are based on the suppression of evidence that may assist justice; that is for the prosecution to overcome; not for you to judge. It would be unethical not to do everything legitimate within the Law to defend your client. If you cannot suspend judgement on your client then you should not be in law.
I don’t know if this is exactly the type of book you are looking for, but it might be of interest:
50 Questions on the Natural Law: What It is and Why We Need It by Charles E. Rice
The book isn’t explicitly about what you are asking, but I think it would offer some indirect guidance through the general principles it discusses.
Good summary of what is required of attorneys. I’ve always found it offensive that lawyers are charged with owing a duty first to the court, rather than to their clients, or even God.
Thanks to all for the suggestions/advice!