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I defended a serial killer | Guardian Docs        2 July 2014


Why do lawyers defend serial killers and murderers?

Rory Carroll and Simon Hattenstone

talk to the lawyers who've taken on

some of the toughest cases.


John Henry Browne, 67,

has been practising law for 43 years.


Based in Seattle, Washington,

he has defended high-profile mass murderers,

including serial killer Ted Bundy,

who sowed fear across the US in the 1970s,

and Robert Bales,

an army sergeant

who massacred 16 Afghan civilians

in 2011.


Laurence Lee, 61,

runs his own firm in Liverpool

and specialises in criminal law.


In 1993,

he represented 10-year-old Jon Venables,

who was charged with abducting two-year-old James Bulger

from a shopping centre in Bootle, and murdering him.


Venables and his co-defendant,

Robert Thompson,

were found guilty,

becoming Britain's

youngest convicted murderers.


William Kelley, 65,

retired two years ago

after practising law

in Orange County, California, for 33 years.


He defended Charles Ng,

who was convicted of murdering 11 people.


Ng and his accomplice, Leonard Lake,

abducted and tortured their victims

at a remote cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills

in the mid-80s.






























The recorder of N












The Bar Council





























August 12, 1889


The idleness of long legal holidays


From the Guardian archive


Monday August 12, 1889



Tomorrow the lawyers enter upon the Long Vacation. From August 13 to October 24 - that is, ten weeks and two days - is in these busy and bustling days a goodly holiday.

Since idleness brings its own punishment in most cases, no one probably would be very much concerned with the liberal views which the legal profession take of the "refreshers" which in one form or another their colossal labours deserve.

But, unfortunately the lawyers make holiday in more ways than one at the expense of the public. The "close time" which is so jealously preserved does not by any means relieve litigants from the enormous expense that still attends any form of legal proceedings.

Apart altogether from the mere delay and suspense which are occasioned by the recurrence of this annual period of stagnation - and these are in themselves a serious hardship - the fact that an action must be hung up for such a long time involves a by no means inconsiderable addition to the bill of costs.

"Applications" and "steps" innumerable turn out to be necessary in consequence of the Long Vacation, and these do nothing to expedite a settlement of the matter in dispute.

It seems as if, notwithstanding the boasted reform of our legal system, the lawyers had purposely arranged not only for a holiday of enormous length, but that they should draw their expenses from the pockets of their luckless clients.

It is, then, not to be wondered at that every year the cry for a drastic change should make itself heard.

Of course it is only natural that the lawyers have hitherto succeeded in maintaining the Long Vacation in spite of the long outcry for its abolition. In 1875 it was cut down by a few weeks, and it has since been again curtailed [from] the old three months and more.

But the question which is once more being asked is whether there is any real necessity for any wholesale legal holiday at all. Why should all the judges go away at the same time?

If they were granted a month or two's leave of absence in rotation, they could recruit themselves as other people have to do, and without seriously interfering with the progress of legal business.

To the rank and file of the bar the Long Vacation is a melancholy interval of enforced idleness which exists for the protection of the more fortunate members of the profession.

From the Guardian archive > August 12, 1889 >
The idleness of long legal holidays, G, Republished 12.8.2006,










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