Courts have been reluctant to find instances of ineffective assistance of counsel in death penalty cases. Most ineffective assistance claims are dismissed as "tactical decisions" or nonprejudicial error. This comment examines the inadequacy of counsel at capital trials. The author examines and discusses the current standard for determining whether a defendant's attorney was ineffective, and through a survey of common errors and examples argues that the standard does not protect against even egregious examples of ineffective assistance. The comment discusses reasons why capital defendants often receive low quality representation and some legislative solutions that have been attempted. Concluding that these solutions have been ineffective, the author proposes several suggestions to reform the system; including a moratorium on imposing the death penalty until reforms can take effect, greater resource allocation to indigent defender programs, and education for both law students and practicing attorneys.
College of Law
Northern Illinois University Law Review
""Our System Is Broken": A Study Of The Crisis Facing The Death-Eligible Defendant,"
Northern Illinois University Law Review: Vol. 23:
1, Article 1.
Kelly Reissmann, Comment, "Our System Is Broken": A Study Of The Crisis Facing The Death-Eligible Defendant, 23 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 43 (2002).