Question: Do you believe the right to counsel is a meaningful one, given the
interpretation it has received by the Supreme Court?
Is the definition of "effective
assistance of counsel" too restrictive?
Why or Why not?
Use relevant case law to
support your position.
The right to counsel refers to the right of a criminal defendant to have a
lawyer assist in their defense, even if they cannot afford to pay for the
attorney (Legal Information Institute, n.d.). Without the assistance of an
effective lawyer many individuals would run the risk of going to jail when
charged with a crime. I would say not everyone knows what is and is not
admissible in a court of law, let alone how to convince a jury of your peers
that you are innocent of the crime you are being accused of. This right is
protected by the Sixth Amendment, which gives defendants the right to legal
counsel in federal prosecutions. At state level, this principle was not applied
Gideon v. Wainwright
, 372 U.S. 335 (1963); however, certain
misdemeanors do not guarantee the right to legal counsel.
In my opinion, the right to counsel is meaningful as in the case of
, 430 U.S. 387 (1977). In this case, the Supreme Court held in a 5-4
decision that the right to legal counsel attaches at or after the time that
judicial proceedings have been initiated, whether by formal charge,
preliminary hearing, indictment, information, or arraignment.
I do believe the definition of effective assistance of counsel is too restrictive
because in the case of
Strickland v. Washington
, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), the
Supreme Court ruled that in order to determine if a court appointed attorney
has not provided a proper defense the defendant must (1) show that counsel
fell below and objective standard of reasonableness and (2) to show
prejudice, the defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability
that if not for counsel the result would have been different (Strickland v.
Washington, n.d.). I think it would be difficult to confirm if your defense
counsel showed prejudice.
Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Right to Counsel.
Strickland v. Washington. (n.d.).
. Retrieved September 11, 2023, from