CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Carroll on The Challenges of Representation

Jenny E. Carroll (University of Alabama - School of Law) has posted If Only I Had Known: The Challenges of Representation (Fordham Law Review, Vol. 89, 2021) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This Essay explores the challenges of that representation and the false dichotomies it creates—dichotomies that carry tremendous burdens for stakeholders—from my perspective as a public defender. It is the only perspective I know, and so it is an incomplete story. I cannot tell the whole story of representation no matter how generous the word count or deadline. I do not know it. Nor can I tell my complete story of what it was to be a representative. But this is a start. My story is written in the first person and tries at once both to be personal and to contemplate representation beyond my anecdotal experiences. It proceeds in three parts. Part I considers the challenges of representation as a premise and in reality. Part II examines the mental health implications of such representation for the attorneys who undertake it. Finally, Part III turns, ever hopeful, to the possibility of what the lawyer’s role as an advocate and a participant in the criminal courts might be if it sought to take into account what it means to represent.

In the end, whether you read these pages as my singular experience or as a more broadly shared perspective or do not make it to the end at all, they hold what I know now of representation: a truth of sorts won from years in the litigation trenches and years of reflection as an advisor and academic. I do not mean to suggest in writing this Essay that my personal failings in representation are universal (they may or may not be) or that whatever I felt was greater or should supersede my clients’ experiences as the represented. Indeed, quite the contrary; what I say here I say because of what I learned from those with whom I worked. That they may draw a different lesson or tell a different story does not and cannot change that, and I do not mean to appropriate or obscure their realities in this Essay. I do mean to tell what I saw as I saw it.

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