Inadequate Legal Defense


Definition

The exonoree's lawyer at trial or on appeal provided obviously and grossly inadequate representation.

**The failures of defense counsel are overwhelmingly sins of omission, especially the failure to investigate. Unless those failures are actually litigated, they are likely to go unmentioned, and in many cases there is no occasion to question the competence of the defense attorney. But that sort of failure, however damaging, cannot normally be raised on appeal because appeals are limited to the record that was actually made at trial, and litigation on a failure to investigate requires a hearing at which new evidence is presented. The issue may be litigated separately after appeal, but it's uncommon because most defendants cannot afford to hire lawyers, and they are not entitled to appointed counsel at that stage.57

Case Examples

Remedies

Increased funding for public defender offices and court appointed attorneys.

Standards for workload limits, professional independence and training requirements.