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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Every defendant has the right to adequate representation

Washington residents who have been charged with a crime have the right to adequate representation by a lawyer. This right is directly linked to the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial, because a fair trial is not possible without adequate representation. If a defendant's lawyer did not meet this standard, the correct ruling may not have been made.

The right to adequate representation does not mean that every defendant is entitled to be represented flawlessly. However, a lawyer that is grossly incompetent or negligent while representing a defendant is not providing reasonable professional assistance. If a person can prove that a guilty verdict was the result of the lawyer's negligent representation, the conviction could be thrown out, and the defendant could be given a new trial.

A person must have strong evidence to prove that a lawyer's inadequate representation led to an unfair trial and a faulty verdict. A judge that listens to arguments about inadequate representation will begin with the presumption that the lawyer did represent the defendant adequately. Defendants must be able to show that egregious errors and deficient performance resulted in their Sixth Amendment rights being violated.

Many defendants are represented by court-appointed lawyers because they cannot afford to pay for legal counsel. If a court-appointed lawyer does not provide the defendant with adequate representation, the result of the negligence can have lasting consequences for the defendant. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to help a defendant prove that the original lawyer committed serious errors that undermined the judicial process. A defendant's new lawyer may then represent the defendant in a new trial.

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