Surveying Justice

 In Symposium

Lawyers are supposed to be loyal, diligent, and competent client advocates and at the same time officers of the court, who bear a special duty “to avoid conduct that undermines the integrity of the adjudicative process.”  Courts, in turn, are supposed to license, regulate, and supervise their officers of the court. In criminal cases, moreover, courts appoint a great deal of the lawyers appearing before them, pursuant to both Gideon and statutory rights to counsel. Even though courts ordinarily have the power to appoint and remove attorneys in cases, especially criminal cases, they generally do not use that power wisely; subpar attorneys often populate appointment lists and, through those lists or other vehicles, regularly appear before the criminal courts. Both prosecutorial misconduct and rampant ineffective assistance of counsel fill the courts. Although no system is perfect, courts have missed a critical opportunity to regulate and improve the practice of law. This brief Essay offers an idea to boost the supervision, development, and as appropriate, removal of counsel who appear in criminal cases.

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