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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 136459 Find in a Library
Title: Death by Lottery -- Procedural Bar of Constitutional Claims in Capital Cases Due to Inadequate Representation of Indigent Defendants
Journal: West Virginia Law Review  Volume:92  Issue:3  Dated:(Spring 1990)  Pages:679-695
Author(s): S B Bright
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 17
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Poor people accused of capital crimes are often represented by lawyers who are inadequately compensated, inexperienced, and incompetent. Poor lawyering can result not only in a mediocre defense, but in a failure to obtain full Federal habeas corpus review.
Abstract: Unfortunately, States often fail to establish that the process by which a capital punishment was invoked satisfies constitutional standards. For example, in Wainwright v. Sykes, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that meritorious constitutional claims may be barred from Federal review because of an attorney's failure to fulfill State procedural rules or to anticipate changes in the law. In Strickland v. Washington, the Court adopted a standard of effective assistance of counsel, which in effect does not require the accused to be represented by a competent lawyer. The author contends that these two cases have fostered a substandard level of representation for the poor and inequitable results in the imposition of the death sentence. 73 notes
Main Term(s): Attorney competence; Capital punishment
Index Term(s): Class discrimination; Habeas corpus; Sentencing disparity; US Supreme Court decisions
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