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Appealing a case based upon ineffective assistance of counsel

Attorney Rob McCarthyA new appellate case opens up an opportunity for individuals appealing their cases in Massachusetts. People can now refer to to the assigned counsel performance standards of the Committee For Public Counsel Services when arguing that they did not obtain effective assistance at trial. In Commonwealth v. Marinho, 464 Mass. 115 (2013), the defendant said that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to advise him of the significance of an immigration conviction, explore plea resolutions and advocate for a lower sentence. The Supreme Judicial Court looked to the Committee for Public Counsel Services criminal performance standards to establish what is expected from an ordinary fallible lawyer. The Supreme Judicial Court also looked at the American Bar Association’s standards and the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct. The Supreme Judicial Court then held that trial counsel’s performance in the Marinho case fell measurably below that of an ordinary fallible lawyer. It nevertheless affirmed the defendant’s conviction due to the fact he was not prejudiced by his counsel’s substandard effectiveness.

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