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Right to Counsel Essay

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Updated: Feb 7th, 2019

The legal understanding of such a notion as the right to counsel has been shaped by several important cases. This paper is aimed at discussing the case Strickland v. Washington which implies that a citizen should be entitled to effective assistance of counsel (Dimitrakopoulos, 2007, p. 184).

There are several questions that are related to this court decision. First, one should show how a defendant can prove that the assistance of a counsel was inefficient or unreasonable. Secondly, it is important to find out what a judge should do if he/she believes that the attorney does not adequately represent the rights of the client. These are the main issues that should be examined more closely.

Overall, according to this court decision, a defendant may expect an attorney to defend his/her interests in an efficient and reasonable way. Moreover, the deficiencies of an attorney must not deprive a person of the right to fair trial (Dimitrakopoulos, 2007, p. 184).

Under such circumstance, a defendant must prove that the performance of the attorney did not meet the standards that are set for legal professionals (Levenson, Manheim, Dougherty, & Gold, 2012, p. 167). More importantly, it is critical to demonstrate that the decision of the court might have been different provided that the attorney had coped with his/her duties effectively. These are the main implications of this case.

To a great extent, this case represents the latest stages in the historical development of the right to counsel. This court decision was passed in 1984, and it helped to elaborate the understanding of the Sixth Amendment which guarantees the right to counsel.

To a great extent, it lays stress on the competence and accountability of attorneys for the way in which they can defend the interests. In the past, the courts did not have to reverse their verdicts due to the inadequate assistance of legal counsels. This is why the importance of this decision should not be overlooked by clients or lawyers.

On the whole, the right to counsel can be attached to every critical stage of the criminal procedure. For instance, one should speak about preliminary hearing, initial appearance, trial, or sentencing (Emanuel, 2009, p. 154). Furthermore, it should be mentioned that the client did not exercise his right for self-representation.

Instead, he chose to rely on the services of a defense attorney. The main role of this professional was to ensure the adequate representation of the clients’ rights. For example, he had to present the evidence that could exonerate the client or mitigate his guilt. These are the main aspects that one can single out.

The peculiarities of this case were also discussed with a local attorney who was interviewed specifically for this assignment. In particular, he responded to the questions which were identified in the introduction. First of all, he said that the ineffective performance could take several forms. For example, an attorney may fail to present a critical piece of evidence that could defend the interests of a client.

Nevertheless, it is important that in many cases, there are no clear-cut criteria according to which the performance of a counsel can be evaluated. This argument is particularly relevant to the situations when one has to determine whether a defense strategy chosen by the attorney was efficient or not. Under such circumstances, one should keep in mind that even a professional attorney cannot always attain a successful outcome.

Secondly, the attorney said that a judge has several duties. In particular, he may inquire whether a counsel has a possible conflict of interests since it can prevent him from protecting the interests of a defendant in the court. However, a judge is not obliged to question the defense strategies chosen by a counsel. Certainly, he/she may accept the defendant’s demand to substitute a counsel. Yet, a judge should not question the competence of an attorney. These responses have been helpful for understanding the right to counsel.

Overall, these examples indicate that the role of counsel is critical for ensuring that an individual receives a fair trial. The case, which has been chosen for this paper, illustrates the idea that a client can set certain expectations for the performance of an attorney.

Reference List

Dimitrakopoulos, I. (2007). Individual Rights and Liberties Under the U.S. Constitution: The Case Law of the U.S. Supreme Court. New York, NY: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.

Emanuel, S. (2009). Criminal Procedure. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers Online

Levenson, L., Manheim, K., Dougherty, J., & Gold, V. (2012). The Journalist’s Guide to American Law. New York, NY: Routledge.

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