Under the American system of justice even killers who commit the most heinous acts, such as the rape and murder of children, are entitled to legal representation. This is a necessary and fundamental precept of democracy. Accordingly, there are some in the legal profession who must take on this morally repugnant task; however, the role of 'public defender' is not one with universal appeal to law school graduates. And even in the case where a defendant charged with such acts of brutality has the resources to hire the best legal counsel, many law firms choose to decline such an assignment.
This conundrum holds true for those evil and cowardly human beings who commit acts of extreme cruelty to animals; they too must be defended. However, it is disappointing to note that the Seattle law firm of Miller Nash has agreed to represent Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) in its law suit against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS). The suit seeks to enjoin Paul Watson's group from "acts of violence", which the Japanese claim caused them to cut short last year's whale hunt. Why any American law firm would wish to act on behalf of the Japanese whalers who massacre these magnificent creatures is perplexing; but in the case of Miller Nash it is even more so since the firm prides itself in its commitment to protecting the natural environment, and actively supports 'no kill' animal shelters.
One is left to wonder, what were the partners thinking in accepting the ICR as a client? Can they truly draw a distinction between killing cats and dogs in shelters, versus whales on the high seas? Or is it that the blood money was just too rich to decline? How sad. How cold. How cruel.