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New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - NYSACDL

New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - NYSACDL
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NYSACDL files Amicus challenging New York’s Standard for Reviewing Ineffective Assistance Claims

May 6, 2011: The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to decide next week whether to grant certiorari in Rosario v. Griffin, in which New York state’s standard for reviewing ineffective assistance of counsel claims is being challenged as falling below the standard set in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984).  Strickland applies a reasonable probability standard holding that counsel fails to render constitutionally effective assistance if there is a reasonable probability, that but for counsel’s deficiencies, the defendant would have been acquitted.  New York courts, on the other hand, apply a “meaningful representation” standard under which counsel’s overall performance is deemed constitutionally effective as long as counsel’s errors do not render the trial as a whole fundamentally unfair.   NYSACDL joined NACDL as amicus, Rosario v. Griffin, No. 10-854, On Petition from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

 

The question of counsel’s effectiveness is one that the Supreme Court has shown an increased interest in.  In Rosario, counsel obtained funding to interview alibi witnesses in Florida (the crime – a murder – was committed in the Bronx and the case tried in the Bronx) but never followed through.  As a result, Rosario was convicted on eyewitness testimony.  Two alibi witnesses did testify in the defendant’s behalf but seven additional witnesses, crucial to corroborating the two friends of the defendant who did testify, were not interviewed and were not called at the trial. Mounting statistics demonstrating that ineffective assistance is a huge contributing factor to wrongful convictions makes it all the more important for counsel and the courts to vigilantly ensure that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is meaningfully applied.  Read the New York Times Article