Let’s say a child is on his death bed. He needs some encouragement before he passes on. If you’re an atheist, are you tempted to comfort him with a tale of a beautiful afterlife, even if you don’t believe one exists? An atheist friend of mine suggested that this very conversation is what gave rise to our modern notions of a deity and an afterlife (I think there’s a movie with this premise as well). As a Christian, I’m a skeptic when it comes to the “bedside comfort” origins of belief. But, if I get off track on religion this early in the article, my web optimizer people will dis-own me. Their little badge at the bottom of the page will vanish and you’ll stop reading.
Yet the question remains, what do we tell people who are about to encounter some horrible fate? Should we tell them truth? Can we be honest, yet compassionate?
We defense attorneys sometimes have to tell our clients that they’re not going to make it. Literally, they may not live through their sentence. This truth can be hard to swallow. In Florida, losing a trial may mean a death sentence. It may mean a life sentence. Or, it may mean so much prison time that it may as well be a life sentence.
What happens if you don’t tell your client what a crappy case he has, and he loses at trial? Continue Reading