North Carolina Study Finds Substandard Representation
The Common Sense Foundation of North Carolina released a study on October 11, 2006 that found that at least 37 people now on death row had trial lawyers who would not have met today’s minimum standards of qualification. Nearly a third of the cases where sufficient data was available fell into this substandard category.
The study also lists the names of 16 people who have been executed whose trial lawyers did not meet these same standards. Over half of the executions in the state where data was available were of defendants whose attorneys would not meet the current state standards.
The study noted that after the
state legislature created the Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS)
in 2001 requiring that appointed capital defense
attorneys have some experience and knowledge of capital defense, the
number of N.C. death sentences declined sharply. However, the new rules do not apply to those who have already been sentenced to death.