Again, the following rule of duty is to be carefully1
observed: never prefer a capital charge against any
person who may be innocent. For that cannot
possibly be done without making oneself a criminal.
For what is so unnatural as to turn to the ruin and
destruction of good men the eloquence bestowed by
Nature for the safety and protection of our fellowmen? And yet, while we should never prosecute
the innocent, we need not have scruples against
undertaking on occasion the defence of a guilty
person, provided he be not infamously depraved and
wicked. For people expect it; custom sanctions it;
humanity also accepts it. It is always the business of
the judge in a trial to find out the truth; it is sometimes the business of the advocate to maintain what
is plausible, even if it be not strictly true, though I
should not venture to say this, especially in an ethical
treatise, if it were not also the position of Panaetius,
that strictest of Stoics. Then, too, briefs for the defence are most likely to bring glory and popularity
to the pleader, and all the more so, if ever it falls to
him to lend his aid to one who seems to be oppressed
and persecuted by the influence of someone in power.
This I have done on many other occasions; and once
in particular, in my younger days, I defended Sextus
Roscius of Ameria against the power of Lucius Sulla
when he was acting the tyrant. The speech is published, as you know.