On the BBC News this morning, I heard an interview with Geir Lippestad, the lawyer for Anders Behring Breivik. Breivik has admitted to last week's mass-killings in Norway. Here is my transcription of a portion of that interview:
[Reporter:] You, as a lawyer, are, in a sense, at the receiving end of a lot of hostility on a massive scale. How do you feel?
[Mr. Lippestad:] Well, Norwegian people are loving people and caring people and if you look into the Internet right now, you can see that people value the democracy – the principle of democracy – very high. And the legal system is part of that democracy, and I am proud of being part of a system that is strong, and proud to be in Norway now and receive lots of comments that [a]defender’s work is important.
A video of that interview is here. The (U.K.) Telegraph reports (here) that Mr. Lippestad was reluctant to accept the case, after police notified him that the defendant had requested Mr. Lippestad's services.
For several hours he hesitated and discussed with friends and family whether to defend a man who only hours early had massacred 68 young people on a summer holiday island.
But in the end his civic instincts trumped his initial horror. "I believe that the legal system is very important in a democracy and someone has to do this job," he told reporters this afternoon.
That's moral mettle.