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University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Criminal Procedure

Ineffective assistance of counsel

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel Before Powell V. Alabama: Lessons From History For The Future Of The Right To Counsel, Sara Mayeux Jul 2014

Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel Before Powell V. Alabama: Lessons From History For The Future Of The Right To Counsel, Sara Mayeux

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The doctrinal literature on ineffective assistance of counsel typically begins with the 1932 Supreme Court case of Powell v. Alabama. This symposium contribution goes back farther, locating the IAC doctrine’s origins in a series of state cases from the 1880s through the 1920s. At common law, the traditional agency rule held that counsel incompetence was never grounds for a new trial. Between the 1880s and the 1920s, state appellate judges chipped away at that rule, developing a more flexible doctrine that allowed appellate courts to reverse criminal convictions in cases where, because of egregious attorney ineptitude, there was reason ...


The Duties Of Non-Judicial Actors In Ensuring Competent Negotiation, Stephanos Bibas Jul 2013

The Duties Of Non-Judicial Actors In Ensuring Competent Negotiation, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This essay, written for a symposium at Duquesne Law School entitled Plea Bargaining After Lafler and Frye, offers thoughts on how lawyers could learn from doctors’ experience in catching and preventing medical errors and aviation experts’ learning from airplane crashes and near misses. It also expresses skepticism about the efficacy of judges’ ex post review of ineffective assistance of counsel, but holds out more hope that public-defender organizations, bar associations, probation officers, sentencing judges, sentencing commissions, and line and supervisory prosecutors can do much more to prevent misunderstanding and remedy ineffective bargaining advice in the first place.


Incompetent Plea Bargaining And Extrajudicial Reforms, Stephanos Bibas Nov 2012

Incompetent Plea Bargaining And Extrajudicial Reforms, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Last year, in Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye, a five-to-four majority of the Supreme Court held that incompetent lawyering that causes a defendant to reject a plea offer can constitute deficient performance, and the resulting loss of a favorable plea bargain can constitute cognizable prejudice, under the Sixth Amendment. This commentary, published as part of the Harvard Law Review’s Supreme Court issue, analyzes both decisions. The majority and dissenting opinions almost talked past each other, reaching starkly different conclusions because they started from opposing premises: contemporary and pragmatic versus historical and formalist. Belatedly, the Court noticed that ...


Taming Negotiated Justice, Stephanos Bibas Jun 2012

Taming Negotiated Justice, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

After four decades of neglecting laissez-faire plea bargaining, the Supreme Court got it right. In Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper, the Court recognized that the Sixth Amendment regulates plea bargaining. Thus, the Court held that criminal defendants can challenge deficient advice that causes them to reject favorable plea bargains and receive heavier sentences after trial. Finally, the Court has brought law to the shadowy plea-bargaining bazaar.

Writing in dissent, Justice Scalia argued that the majority’s opinion “opens a whole new boutique of constitutional jurisprudence (‘plea-bargaining law’).” To which I say: it is about time the Court developed ...