Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ineffective assistance? Not this time!

Well, you can't blame this prominent defense lawyer for trying. Believe me, this is a strategy which has occurred to virtually every trial defense counsel at one time or another. It is ironic that trial defense lawyers are vilified to a "fare thee well" by prosecutors (and often criminal court judges) while the trial is occurring, but they all become Clarence Darrows once the guilty verdict is read.

Lawyer claim that he botched case rejected By Michael Higgins, Tribune staff reporter. Published October 24, 2006

Despite a prominent defense attorney's insistence that he botched a murder trial in 1981, a state appellate court on Monday upheld the conviction in the case and agreed with the trial judge, who called the attorney's performance stellar. Randolph Stone, who directs the University of Chicago Law School's Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, blamed himself for failing to prove that his client was mentally ill and for not cross-examining two key witnesses at sentencing.

Stone took the blame in an affidavit he wrote for the state appellate defender's office, which sought to overturn the conviction of James Ford, 52, based on ineffective counsel. But the 1st District Appellate Court in Chicago, ruling on what it called an unexpected argument, refused to grant Ford a new trial.

"The judge said Stone turned in `a stellar performance' [and] was `on his game,'" Judge Robert Cahill wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. "Our review of the record leads us to concur with the trial judge. [Stone] has been too hard on himself." Stone, who also has served as the public defender for Cook County, said Monday that he was disappointed in the result.

Read the whole story here.


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