Asim A. Humayun, a defense lawyer, recently spoke to Professor Justine Madoo’s Introduction to Criminal Justice class. Here is a short outake of Asim's talk. Asim, a Maryland graduate, admitted he did not have the best grades as an undergraduate criminal justice student at Maryland, but once he found his passion for law, he excelled as a law student at Widener University School of Law. He worked for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender and is now a lead criminal defense lawyer with the Law Office of Miguel Palmeiro.
Asim described three roles of a defense lawyer. The primary role is to protect the client, and educate them about their rights as well as the criminal trial process. He called this role the “shield.” The next role is described as the “sword” – the lawyer fights for his client by doing an independent investigation, filling motions to suppress evidence, and subpoenaing witnesses. The final role of the defense lawyer is to humanize the client before the judge or jury. To show the client is not just a case number, but a person who isn’t defined by this one alleged incident. Everyone has a mother, a father, a job, a hobby, pets etc., an entire life, don’t judge the whole person based on one isolated incident in question. Show the circumstances that led him/her to the incident.
Asim’s advice to students: Know your Miranda Rights. You could make incriminating statements while talking to the police. You have the right to be silent. You have the right to an attorney. People brought in for questioning think that if you remain silent, the police will investigate you more. You are probably right, but when you talk, you make the detective’s job easier. Exercising your right to remain silent cannot be used against you in court.
Asim discussed key components of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment gives you protection against unreasonable search and seizure, not only of your person, but also your property. The Fifth Amendment provides your right to remain silent. The Sixth Amendment gives you the right to a speedy and public trial, the right to know the charges that are being brought against you, the right to confront your accuser and witnesses, and most importantly, the right to an attorney. The Fourteenth Amendment was interpreted to require states to recognize the rights afforded to you by the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments.