This story was written by sophomore Ethan Neimark and is a part of a series written by the sophomores in Democratic Roots about moral dilemmas in our community.
Avi Springer could have never predicted that his job would someday lead him to become a criminal defense attorney defending people accused of murder, rape, assault, and other damaging felonies. Yet here we find him today, in Barre VT, working hard to keep people out of jail and into better situations. With this job, comes an incredible dilemma that has tested his morality and character. Avi said that he believes that doing what he does, defending criminals accused of murder can bring up some intense feelings.
After graduating high school, Avi found his way up north to Connecticut to receive his Bachelor’s degree, and then out west to Berkeley to receive his Master’s; it was the job that he had in between those two schools that would give him the inspiration to become an attorney. He saw an ad for an investigator for police misconduct in New York City and on a whim, he took the job. He found he really enjoyed it and more and more, he got into criminal defense and the justice system. He eventually ended up back in Connecticut to receive his Law Degree at Yale University.
Avi has said that he doesn’t think he has had a specific dilemma as great as simply his job in criminal defense. A job that means defending people accused of egregious crimes. Prison exists for a reason: to keep the criminally insane locked up away from society. So when someone like Avi is tasked with protecting these criminals, mixed feelings can come up.
Avi said that he struggled with this dilemma for a long time, but he feels that he has overcome this struggle. He stated “I think the system can only work fairly or hope to work fairly if there’s at least one person who is fighting zealously for people who are accused of doing some pretty bad stuff.” He feels that if his client has been accused of bad things and Avi has decided he doesn’t like him, then well he is acting just like the judge and jury. “And there’s no way to hold me accountable for that,” he says. “In order for the system to work, I have to fight hard for my clients.”
Avi stated that he believes that the Criminal Justice system and the courts are not always the best option. He said, “I think there’s a lot of flaws in the system. And it’s a system that is overly punitive. It focuses on punishment more than helping people. And that’s sort of like why it feels meaningful and important for me to do this work because I’m trying to shepherd people through a system that I think is incredibly flawed and doesn’t always have the right goals and doesn’t have the compassion that it should treat people and that’s actually why I do the work because if I can make a difference in sort of lessening the unfairness of the system in a case by case basis, that seems important.”
Avi said that countries in Europe have a much less punitive justice system and because of this they probably have safer societies statistically. He states, “I would like to think the reason that is, is that if you treat people more compassionately, they’re more likely to to stay out of trouble and and do well in life, and if you overly punish them and put them in prisons for really long periods of time where they feel like society has given up hope on them, they give up hope on society and they’re more likely to to do things that we don’t want them to do.”
Avi Springer works at Rubin, Kidney, Meyer, Vincent (soon to be Rubin, Kidney, Meyer, Vincent, and Springer as he was made a partner recently.) He continues to work as a criminal defense attorney and fight for those who have no one else. “No one is defined by the worst thing they have done, I’d like to think that the worst thing I’ve ever done doesn’t define me. And the same is true for my clients,” Avi said.