He did what?

by Rick Wetzel on April 20, 2011

I am always on the lookout for errors in my client’s conviction which could lead to relief.  A criminal appeals lawyer or habeas corpus lawyer will tell you a common claim presented in criminal appeals is that of ineffective assistance of counsel.  

Unlike the United States, lawyers in Canada are required to carry malpractice insurance.  There is only one insurance carrier and that makes it easy to track the types of mistakes made by lawyers.  The American Bar Association reports a recent study from Canada indicates there are four common areas in which lawyers make mistakes.     

Substantive errors account for almost half of all reported claims.  The most obvious error in this category is a failure to know or properly apply substantive law.  Another rather obvious error is the failure to know or ascertain a deadline.  Inadequate investigation or discovery of facts is another substantive error which frequently appears.     

Administrative errors account for over a quarter of all reported claims.  These errors include clerical and delegation errors, lost file or document errors, and procrastination.  A failure to file documents is the top administrative error.  While delegation of tasks to knowledgeable support staff is an essential part of the operation of every practice, ultimately the lawyer is responsible for the delegated work. 

Intentional wrongs account for about an eighth of all reported claims.  Such acts include fraudulent acts by the lawyer, malicious prosecution or abuse of process, libel or slander, and violations of civil rights. 

Client-relations errors account for about an eight of all reported claims.  There are several types of these claims and they all tend to arise from lawyer-client communication problems.  They include the failure to follow the client’s instructions, the failure to obtain the client’s consent, and the failure to inform the client of all the implications or possible outcomes when following a certain course of action.  Conflicts of interest fall in this category as well.  Those conflicts can arise when a lawyer represents multiple clients or has a personal interest in the matter.  

The errors found in the Canadian study occur daily in our state and federal courts.  Those errors lead to unconstitutional convictions.  Such errors by counsel can form the basis of a successful criminal appeal or habeas corpus application before a criminal appeals court.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz

Related posts:

  1. When Lawyers Become Criminals

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: