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Improvement of criminal defense representation is one of the most critical problems that faces the criminal justice system. The problem is extensive; some attorneys are frequently ineffective and probably all attorneys are occasionally inadequate because of error, overwork, personal problems or ethical conflicts.

The defendant's only remedy against his attorney's ineffectiveness is through direct appeal or collateral post-conviction attack. This article discusses the reasons why courts cannot improve defense representation through these avenues of review. Deep disagreement among judges about the purpose of post-conviction review has crippled any attempt at improvement. The key unresolved question is whether the standard for testing an attorney's representation should be designed simply to provide a fair verdict for the individual defendant, or whether it should be designed to prod attorneys to perform better and to encourage trial courts to police counsel's representation.

Publication Citation

15 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 109-167 (1977)