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Inadequate Counsel

One of the factors that is often overlooked when discussing wrongful convictions, is bad lawyering. Unfortunately, this is seen most often with defendants that cannot afford counsel. There is absolutely no excuse for bad lawyering. The United States Constitution guarantees a defendant the right to representation by an attorney in a criminal case. It should be expected that competent attorneys are assigned to represent a defendant in need of counsel.

Most defendants that have court-appointed attorneys are represented by competent and experienced counsel. In a small percentage of cases, defendants are represented by attorneys that are inexperienced, incompetent, and overworked. These defendants run a very high risk of being wrongfully convicted. Spending cuts and  limited access to resources for public defenders and court-appointed attorneys are two issues that currently threaten to make matters worse.

Resources

Institute of Justice: How much difference does the lawyer make? (PDF)