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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 98487 Find in a Library
Title: Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments - Appointed Counsel Has No Constitutional Duty to Argue Nonfrivolous Issues on Appeal - Jones v Barnes, 103 S Ct 3308 (1983)
Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:74  Issue:4  Dated:(Winter 1983)  Pages:1353-1371
Author(s): D J Gross
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 19
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In Jones v. Barnes, the U.S. Supreme Court held that attorneys appointed to appeal criminal convictions have no constitutional duty to raise every nonfrivolous issue that defendants request them to argue.
Abstract: The Supreme Court had previously held that under the 14th amendment, an indigent defendant is entitled to the assistance of counsel on a first appeal. Once appointed, counsel must meet a minimum standard of effectiveness and act as an advocate for the defendant rather than as a friend of the court. Aside from these general propositions, however, the Court had not clearly specified the constitutional duties appointed counsel owe their clients. In 'Barnes,' the Court examined these duties and held that counsel can provide a constitutionally adequate defense while refusing to raise nonfrivolous issues that defendants request be argued on appeal. In the dissent, Justice Brennan wrote that the majority had disregarded fundamental precepts of equality and individual autonomy. The dissent was concerned that the ruling would place ultimate decisionmaking authority with counsel rather than the defendant and that it would foster mistrust between counsel and indigent defendants. The Court's majority, on the other hand, was concerned that defendants would rob themselves of effective representation if counsel were bound to their wishes in raising every conceivable nonfrivolous issue on appeal. The Court feared the result would frustrate the appellate courts in their pursuit of justice. The Court was correct in acting to avoid defendants' unnecessary use of the appellate process in the face of an increasingly crowded docket; the Court continues to expect appointed counsel to argue the strongest issues on appeal. A total of 120 footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Appeal procedures; Attorney competence; Court appointed counsel; Right to counsel; Right to Due Process; US Supreme Court decisions
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