Legal Ethics

Idaho Killer's Standby Counsel Ordered to Stay


Lawyers who have been serving as standby counsel for the man who killed an Idaho family so he could kidnap and sexually abuse two children are being compelled by a judge to stick with the case.

The lawyers had asked to withdraw, saying they can’t ethically continue because Joseph Edward Duncan III is basing his defense on an incomprehensible world view, the Associated Press reports.

“We are not mouthpieces, we are not gunslingers … that do the bidding of someone whose rationale we do not share and whose view of the world” is irrational, Judy Clarke, one of Duncan’s standby counsel, is quoted saying. “We feel that the request is beyond what we should be asked to do … beyond what our professional ethics allow us to do.”

But U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge denied the request, saying he didn’t want the case delayed any longer.

The case was already delayed for three months after Duncan, who has pleaded guilty and could face the death penalty, asked and was allowed to represent himself. Jury selection is under way for the sentencing phase.

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