The 6th. Circuit Court of Appeals, yesterday, overturned the death sentence of a man whose execution has been pending in the State of Ohio for the past 21 years, citing ineffective counsel in its ruling and remanding the case back to the Ohio Southern District Court, giving the State 180 days to conduct new penalty proceedings.
Notable, however, and indeed troubling, are some of Chief Justice Danny Boggs’ comments that lawyers might be tempted to employ ineffective counsel measures as a defense ploy for their clients. “If counsel provides fully-effective assistance,” the Chief Justice wrote in a concurring opinion to the case, “and the jury simply does not buy the defense, the defendant is likely to be executed. (But) if counsel provides ineffective assistance the prisoner is likely to be spared, certainly for many years, and frequently forever.”
“To put it bluntly,” the Chief Justice wrote, “it might well appear to a disinterested observer that the most incompetent & ineffective counsel that can be provided a convicted and death-eligible defendant is a fully-investigated and competent penalty-phase defense under the precedents of the Supreme Court and this court.”