Joel A. Mogren
Attorney at Law
When experience counts 

111 East Wisconsin Avenue
Suite 1925
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Google Voice 414.367.4067

Who watches the watchmen?

By Attorney Joel A. Mogren

I am often asked, "How can you possibly defend criminals?"


I have a variety of responses -- such as -- "They are allegedly criminals"; People make mistakes -- I know I have."


When I have enough time, my preferred answers is this:  "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" or in English, "Who watches the watchmen?"


After giving this answer, people tend to look at me like I am crazy.  "What do you mean?  Are you talking about that movie?"


I say, "Well, just look at what happened here in Milwaukee, the whole state really.  Every couple of weeks there is a scandal relating to how somebody involved in law enforcement or the government has done something shockingly wrong or illegal.  Don't you think the Constitution matters?"


That short response from me is usually met with something like this, "Yes, but that's just a few bad eggs, and criminals have too many rights anyway."

"So, the mayor of Racine who pled guilty to possession of child pornography is one bad egg.  The retired deputy sheriff from Waukesha who possessed child pornography is a second bad egg.  The retired judge from Burlington who was exploiting women for sex is a third bad egg.  The Milwaukee police officers who beat up Frank Jude, Jr., are a few more bad eggs.  The officers in West Allis who let a drunken Milwaukee police officer off the hook for OWI -- well, there's a few more bad eggs.  I think the whole carton is rotten."


Then, I usually hear, "You're not being fair.  Cops have a tough job.  You're defending criminals."


"I'm not saying the police don't have a tough job.  What I'm saying is that we should not blindly trust law enforcement or the government.  A defense attorney not only protects and helps his clients, a defense attorney watches the watchmen.  Remember, all those cops I just mentioned, they appeared in court and testified against somebody who was allegedly a criminal.  Who do you think the jurors believed --the alleged criminal or the officers?  Do you know who the top five known greatest mass murders of all-time are?"

A reply  usually includes the following: "John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and David Berkowitz."


"That's a good guess, but in the twentieth century the top killers are the following governments:  Bosnia-Herzegovian: 1992-1995 - 200,000 deaths; Rwanda:  1994 -800,000 deaths; Pol Pot in Cambodia:  1975-1979 - 2,000,000 deaths; the Nazi Holocaust: 1938-1945 - 6,000,000 deaths; the Japanese Army Rape of Nanking:  1937-1938 -300,000 deaths; Stalin's Forced Famine: 1932-1933 -7,000,000 deaths.  All of those dead were killed by a government.  Who watches the watchmen?"