Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ineffective assistance as an effective defense strategy?

I have often wondered why trial defense counsel aren't more receptive to "ineffective assistance of counsel" based appeals. Sure, you hate to admit making a mistake, and no one likes criticism, but then again, it's neither your life nor your liberty which is at stake. Here's one defense counsel who embraces the idea.

WEST PALM BEACH -- Nathaniel Brazill, serving a 28-year prison sentence for fatally shooting a Lake Worth Middle School teacher in 2000, will get a new hearing at which he will claim his trial attorney did not effectively represent him, an appeals court ruled Wednesday. *****

Brazill, who filed the motion on his own behalf, has an unlikely advocate in his bid to get a new trial."I'm glad to see he got a new hearing and I hope he does get some relief," said Robert Udell, Brazill's trial attorney. "I'd love to see him get a new trial.

"Ineffective assistance of counsel appeals - as they are commonly known - are standard post-conviction motions brought by inmates. Udell said he understands this and that any lawyer who takes such an appeal personally is "a weenie."

"I've been doing this for 30 years and I've never understood lawyers who get up on their high horse when clients file (ineffective assistance of counsel) motions," Udell said. "If my client is in jail for anything I did or didn't do, I'll be the first one to say they deserve relief from the courts."

Of course, embedding a trial with ineffective assistance should never be a trial strategy, should it? Here's the whole story.


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