Professor Abbe Smith Co-edits, Professor Paul Butler Contributes to New Book on Defense Lawyering

August 7, 2013 — It’s the “Cocktail Party Question” asked of every criminal lawyer: how can you represent persons who may be guilty of a crime?

Professor Abbe Smith Professor Abbe Smith
Professor Paul Butler Professor Paul Butler

Georgetown University Law Center Professor Abbe Smith and co-editor Monroe Freedman, a professor at Hofstra University’s Maurice A. Deane School of Law, have compiled the first-ever collection of essays offering a response to “The Question” in How Can You Represent Those People? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). 

The writings, gathered from a diverse group of prominent lawyers and rising stars, each offer a different — and often very personal — perspective. Many contributors share stories — comic and tragic, stirring and heartbreaking — about how it feels to defend people accused of crimes ranging from the “ordinary” to the horrific. This fascinating collection is a must read for anyone interested in crime, punishment, race, poverty and the motivations of criminal lawyers.

Smith lends her own thoughts to the collection with an essay called “How Can You Not Defend Those People?” Contributors also include Professor Paul Butler, with a piece entitled “How Can You Prosecute Those People?” 

Smith, who directs the Criminal Defense & Prisoner Advocacy Clinic and co-directs the E. Barrett Prettyman Fellowship Program at the Law Center, joined the Georgetown Law faculty from Harvard Law School in 1996. She teaches and writes on criminal defense, legal ethics, juvenile justice and clinical legal education. Smith began her career as public defender in Philadelphia and continues to be actively engaged in criminal law practice.

In addition to numerous law journal articles, she has also authored Case of a Lifetime: A Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Story (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), co-authored with Monroe Freedman; Understanding Lawyers’ Ethics (4th ed., Lexis-Nexis, 2010), co-authored with Charles Ogletree, et al.; Beyond the Rodney King Story: An Investigation of Police Conduct In Minority Communities (Northeastern University Press, 1994), and is a contributing author of We Dissent (Michael Avery, ed., NYU Press, 2008) and Law Stories (Gary Bellow & Martha Minow, eds., University of Michigan Press, 1996). 

Smith earned her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from New York University.

Butler, one of the nation’s most frequently consulted scholars on issues of race and criminal justice, joined the Georgetown Law faculty from George Washington University Law School in 2012. He researches and teaches in the areas of criminal law, race relations law, and critical theory. Butler is the author of Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice, which received the Harry Chapin Media award, and his scholarship has been the subject of much attention in the academic and popular media. 

Prior to joining the academy, Butler served as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, where his specialty was public corruption. While at the Department of Justice, Professor Butler also worked as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, prosecuting drug and gun cases. 

He is a cum laude graduate of Yale and a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School.

Visiting Professor Vida Johnson, who teaches in the Criminal Justice Clinic as well as the Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic, also contributed the essay “Defending Civil Rights.”  A former supervising attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, Johnson earned her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her J.D. from New York University Law School.