You would think the issue of bad lawyering is dressed up in partisan, ego-flexing bickering. Sometimes it is. But there’s a bigger thing going on I thought I’d point out.
Mark Bennett has had ineffective assistance on his mind. As in, ineffective assistance of counsel, which is a ground for “relief” in post-conviction proceedings. Meaning in colloquial terms that your lawyer screwed up and that’s why you were found guilty and you deserve another chance with a better lawyer, or at least a lawyer who won’t screw up the next time even if he’s not better.
There’s a dogma about post conviction proceedings, where you often get one shot to bring up every single thing you can think of that might provide a basis for relief, upon pain of having anything you didn’t bring up forever barred: always include a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel.
Why is that?
Very easy. None of the powers that be get terribly upset if a wrongful conviction is blamed on the defense lawyer, who is the powers that be’s antagonist.
It’s all about the powers that be.
Convictions are sometimes overturned because for some reason a judge who is hearing an appeal or post conviction proceeding has a semblance of a conscience on this or that case. It doesn’t happen often. It’s occurrence is completely random and unpredictable, a little like trying to guess why the Casey Anthony case garnered all of that attention, or why of all the racially charged incidents that occur on a daily basis the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin matter somehow captures everyone’s imagination.
So, lightening strikes in this case or that, and some judge has decided that he wants to overturn what he sees as being a wrongful conviction. Well, he can say the judge screwed up or the prosecutor screwed up or the police screwed up; or he can say that the defense lawyer screwed up. In the first three cases he will step on politically significant toes. In the last case no one important will complain, and probably not even the unimportant defense lawyer himself, either, for reasons that Mark Bennett makes perfectly clear.