Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ineffective assistance of counsel in death penalty cases

A recent study of capital cases in Texas shows that nine death row inmates lost their appeals due to the failure of counsel to file by the court deadline. Johnny Ray Johnson was put to death last month after his lawyers missed a filing deadline by one day. He is one of six inmates put to death after missed deadlines. Three more inmates are pending execution after losing appeals over late filings. This is a disgrace. How difficult is it to meet a deadline? Every year I tell my students that missing a deadline is plain and simple the stupidest mistake a lawyer can make. These lawyers should be sanctioned for this conduct. There really is a crisis of ineffective assistance of counsel in this country and the credibility of our system of criminal justice is at stake.

Thanks to Jonathan Turley for the information.

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