Does Satan Deserve a Lawyer?

In 1587, the Catholic Church established the office of Promoter of the Faith, which was commonly known as the Devil’s Advocate.  This position was occupied by a canon lawyer who was charged with presenting the case against a candidate for sainthood.  (The case for sainthood was presented by the Promoter of the Cause, or God’s Advocate.)

In 1983, Pope John Paul II changed the canonization process from adversarial to inquisitorial.  The job of Devil’s Advocate was abolished and a new official called the Promoter of Justice was created to investigate and decide on holiness claims.  As one might expect, this procedural reform led to a sharp increase in the number of saints. (About 500 during John Paul II’s reign as opposed to about 100 in the previous eighty years.)

My conclusion:  Satan is an underserved client.  I leave it to legal ethicists to determine whether he is entitled to pro bono assistance.

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5 Responses

  1. James Cappio says:

    Of course you’re aware of the Mayo case.

  2. Howard Wasserman says:

    Or the new movie “Suing the Devil,” in which Satan appears to defend himself before a default judgment can be entered. The film opened in select theatres and apparently has been doing a lot of church-sponsored private viewings across the country.

  3. Shag from Brookline says:

    It is alleged that when W. C. Fields was caught thumbing through the Bible on his death bed he said “I’m looking for loopholes.” Practicing lawyers not on their death beds do that all the time representing clients. The Devil, you say? Consider the definition of a lawyer in Gerard’s earlier post on the Devil.

  4. Michael Herz says:

    Indeed, Satan is especially exposed in light of the assistance to potential plaintiffs provided by Charles Yablon, Suing the Devil: A Guide for Practitioners, 86 Virgina L. Rev. 103 (2000).

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