Ineffective Defense Lawyers

A competent defense lawyer is a crucial component of our legal system. Outlier death penalty counties are rife with poorly performing lawyers who rarely give the jury a reason to save the defendant's life. Of the death sentences imposed in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, since 2005, 75 percent of the cases involved at least one defense lawyer who, under the new case representation standards, is no longer certified to try capital cases in Louisiana. An investigation by the newspaper The Reading Eagle found: "Nearly one in five Pennsylvania inmates sentenced to death in the past decade were represented by attorneys disciplined for professional misconduct at some point in their careers."
"People who are well represented at trial do not get the death penalty...I have yet to see a death case among the dozens coming to the Supreme Court on eve-of-execution stay applications in which the defendant was well represented at trial." -Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associated Press, April 10, 2001