The Law: When a Lawyer Errs

Every criminal defendant who faces the possibility of going to prison is entitled to a lawyer, the Supreme Court ruled in 1972. But how good must the lawyer be? Last week a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia endorsed a set of standards that lawyers must meet. It then added the startling requirement that whenever a defendant shows that his lawyer was seriously inadequate, the federal prosecutor bears the burden of proving "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the lawyer's action did no harm to his client's chances.

Chief Judge David Bazelon, long a pioneer in...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!