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Lawyer Deemed Ineffective When Followed Judge's Ruling

In Kansas, a case can be overturned by the appeals court for numerous reasons. One of these can be if the court determines that the lawyer did an especially poor job, such that a person's Constitutional rights to a fair trial were not upheld. It's called ineffective assistance of counsel and is under Kansas codified under K.S.A. 8-1507.

Ineffective assistance of counsel happens all across America. In fact, the Supreme Court of the United States just sent another case back due to ineffective counsel. In that case, the criminal defense attorney for the initial trial was deemed ineffective simply because he was unaware that the State of Alabama no longer capped expert-witness fees at $500. Originally, the attorney tried to get extra resources for a different expert, but the judge incorrectly said that the fees were capped at $500. Therefore, the attorney proceeded with the expert, which the lawyer himself felt was inadequate. The expert ended up doing very poorly at trial. The suspect, Anthony Ray Hinton was convicted of murders from 1985 and 2 was sentenced to death.

When the case was appealed, three new experts were unable to determine whether the bullets actually came from Hinton's firearm. The Supreme Court said, "We do not today launch federal courts into examination of the relative qualifications of experts hired and experts that might have been hired," The SCOTUS also said, "The only inadequate assistance of counsel here was the inexcusable mistake of law—the unreasonable failure to understand the resources that state law made available to him—that caused counsel to employ an expert that he himself deemed inadequate."

This is an interesting decision, especially considering how the judge originally precluded the criminal defense attorney from pursuing this.