04 December 2006

The Partial Right To Counsel

Colorado courts do not tolerate the level of incompetence of a public defender that Texas courts do. But, they also place very high hurdles to such challenges. These hurdles are probably an important source of wrongful convictions.

Failure to gather the right evidence is frequently a make or break issue in the effectiveness of counsel, but this alone, even over a client's objections, is not enough to overturn a conviction.

Most of the time, the adversary system does not break down. But, occassionally, it does falls apart, and the defendant takes the fall. The analysis of the Colorado Court of Appeals in this recent case, shows the very high standards that must be met, which by dumb luck, the defendants letters to the court complaining have given him some chance of winning, because it seems likely that his public defender did absolutely nothing but meet with him once about a possible plea deal.

This is particularly a concern in a case such as this one, where the charges of which the defendant was convicted carry decades of prison time.

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