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17 Wake Forest L. Rev. 497 (1981)


Nearly a decade ago, the United States Supreme Court in McMann v. Richardson held that the sixth amendment right to counsel was a right to effective assistance of counsel. The Court declared that criminal defense attorneys must act "within the range of competence demanded of attorneys in criminal cases, '' and that trial judges must "strive ... to maintain proper standards of performance by attorneys ... in their courts." The Court has not elaborated, however, on what conduct the right to effective counsel requires of both defense counsel and the trial judge, or the procedure by which appellate review can best protect it.

The authors contend that the problem of ineffective assistance of counsel can only be resolved by establishing a uniform categorical standard for reviewing ineffective-assistance claims. Standards will prevent claims from arising as well as provide a standard of review for appellate courts. This article discusses the constitutional basis of the right to effective assistance, examines current standards used by the courts in evaluating ineffectiveness claims, assesses current proposals for rectifying ineffective representation, and recommends adoption of a "guidelines" approach as a curative measure.


Copyright by Wake Forest Law Review. Reprinted with permission.

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