Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Department of Justice Policy Bans Federal Prosecutors From Asking Defendants to Waive Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims Against Defense Attorneys

        The United States Department of Justice recently released a new policy that will ban federal prosecutors from asking defendants to waive any potential ineffective assistance of counsel claims that they may have against their attorneys as a condition of accepting a plea. Previously, federal prosecutors had the ability to ask criminal defendants, who pleaded guilty, to waive their right to bring claims sounding in ineffective assistance of counsel. Now, federal prosecutors may not include language that constitutes such a waiver in plea bargain documents, and waivers included in documents that were executed prior to the implementation of this new policy may not be enforced.

       A criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel may be violated if an attorney did not adequately and competently represent the defendant and the result of the defendant’s trial or sentencing would have been different if the attorney had competently represented the defendant. Attorney General Eric Holder has stated that this new policy is reflective of the Justice Department’s commitment to preserving citizens’ constitutional rights, namely the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and the Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. In addition, this new policy will ensure that individuals receive competent representation as they respond to the criminal allegations stated against them.

          The criminal defense lawyers of Brown Paindiris & Scott can help you navigate the criminal justice system. For more information, visit our website.