Covered by NYDaily News. Las Vegas man accused of threatening a prominent attorney and making vile remarks.
Covered by New York Times, and other outlets. Fake heiress accused of conning the city’s wealthy, and has an HBO special being made about her.
Accused of stalking Alec Baldwin. The case garnered nationwide attention, with USAToday, NYPost, and other media outlets following it closely.
Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.
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Last Updated on: 15th October 2023, 12:35 pm
Getting accused of a crime is scary. Even if you’re innocent, the legal system can feel like a maze. You need someone who knows the way through – a good lawyer. But what if your lawyer messes up? What if they don’t investigate your case or call key witnesses? That’s called ineffective assistance. And it could be grounds for an appeal.
The Sixth Amendment gives you the right to have a lawyer in criminal cases. Not just any lawyer – you’re entitled to a reasonably competent one. If your attorney’s mistakes hurt your case, that violates the Constitution. But you can’t just say “my lawyer was bad.” You have to show exactly how their mistakes affected the outcome.
There’s no simple test for ineffective assistance. Every case is different. But some common examples include:
Making strategic decisions about your defense doesn’t necessarily count. The law gives lawyers latitude to use their best judgment. But if their judgment seems completely unreasonable, that could be ineffective assistance.
The Supreme Court set a two-part test in Strickland v. Washington. To prove ineffective assistance, you must show:
That’s a high bar. Many ineffectiveness claims fail because there’s no proof the lawyer’s mistakes changed the outcome. But it does happen.
Here are some real-life cases where defendants showed ineffective assistance:
Joe was convicted of assault based on witness statements. But his lawyer never interviewed alibi witnesses who could’ve proven he was elsewhere. The court found ignoring these witnesses was unreasonable, prejudicing Joe’s defense (Bazelon v. United States).
Bill was convicted of robbery. But during trial, the judge made improper comments and the prosecutor asked improper questions. Bill’s lawyer didn’t object. The appellate court ruled the lawyer’s failure to object fell below professional standards and prejudiced Bill’s case (People v. Snyder).
Sally was convicted of fraud. During jury selection, her lawyer didn’t strike a juror who clearly showed bias against her. The appeals court found this incompetent and said it deprived Sally of an impartial jury ( Virgil v. Dretke).
In these cases, the courts overturned the convictions because of ineffective assistance. When a lawyer’s mistakes are serious enough to cause unfairness, the Constitution requires a fix.
Proving your lawyer’s performance was deficient is only half the battle. You also must show their mistakes impacted the case. How do you do this?
The goal is to convince the judge that the lawyer’s mistakes undermined the case and changed the result. You have to give concrete examples of how their errors prejudiced you.
Many ineffective assistance claims involve plea bargains. Prosecutors often offer plea deals with lesser sentences. If your lawyer doesn’t tell you about a plea offer, that could be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court said so in Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper.
You still have to show prejudice though. If you can prove you would’ve taken the deal, and it was better than the outcome at trial, your lawyer’s failure to inform you violated your rights. But you need to clearly establish you would’ve accepted the offer. Otherwise there’s no prejudice.
You can claim ineffective assistance on direct appeal after conviction. But often it’s better to raise it in a collateral proceeding like habeas corpus. That way you can develop extra evidence about what your lawyer did wrong.
The court may hold a hearing to investigate your lawyer’s performance and the impact of their errors. You’ll need to present solid proof – affidavits, documents, expert testimony – to show why their mistakes justify reversing your conviction.
If possible, get a new attorney to handle your ineffectiveness claim. It’s awkward for a lawyer to argue their own incompetence. And judges view ineffectiveness arguments more skeptically when the same lawyer is involved. The best bet is getting outside counsel to make the case that your lawyer failed you.
Ineffectiveness claims often don’t succeed, especially on direct appeal. The record may not contain enough evidence yet to show your lawyer’s errors and the prejudice they caused. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of options:
So if your first attempt fails, don’t give up. There may still be ways to show your lawyer let you down and win relief.
Ineffective assistance claims are complicated. You need proof, objectivity, and legal experience. Our lawyers have gotten convictions reversed by showing clients received ineffective assistance. If your lawyer made serious mistakes, we can build a strong case explaining how it violated your rights and why you deserve a new trial. Don’t wait – contact us to explore your options. Justice depends on effective counsel, and we’re here to fight if your lawyer failed you.
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