Supreme Court Rules on Ineffective-Counsel Claims

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Shinn v. Ramirez, a case arising out of Arizona dealing with ineffective assistance of counsel claims that has broad ramifications. In the 6-3 ruling, the court said that federal courts can’t consider evidence that was not introduced at a state level for ineffective-counsel claims. The two defendants in Ramirez argued that the process of obtaining their convictions and death sentences violated the Sixth Amendment to the constitution, which guarantees effective assistance of counsel. Ramirez claimed his attorney failed to present evidence that would have helped reduce his chances of receiving the death penalty. The other defendant, Barry Jones, maintained that his lawyers were so ineffective that they failed to uncover evidence that he was actually innocent of the crimes.

Experts claim the ruling could lead to more convictions, not just in death penalty cases. If the defendant doesn’t raise ineffective assistance of counsel claims early on at the state court level, it will be too late when the appeal reaches the federal level.

May 27, 2022 - 3:55pm

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