Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

In Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), the United States Supreme Court held that in order for a convicted defendant to establish that he or she was deprived of the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel at trial, the defendant would have to show: (1) deficient performance by trial counsel; and (2) prejudice. In determining whether trial counsel's performance was constitutionally deficient, the reviewing court looks to the reasonableness of counsel's conduct under "prevailing professional norms." Id. at 688. It is the convicted defendant's duty to identify the acts or omission by counsel that are alleged not to have been the result of reasonable professional judgment. The reviewing court must then judge "the reasonableness of counsel's challenged conduct on the facts of the particular case, viewed as of the time of counsel's conduct." Id. at 690. To establish prejudice, a convicted defendant "need not show that counsel's deficient conduct more likely than not altered the outcome in the case." Id. at 693. Rather, the defendant must establish "that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." Id. at 694.

The Supreme Court has also recognized a constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel on direct appeal, although the right is under the Due Process Clause rather than the Sixth Amendment. Evitts v. Lucey, 469 U.S. 387 (1985).

PDF icon IAC Strickland to Wiggins - Summaries of all published successful ineffective assistance of counsel cases post-Strickland v. Washington and prior to Wiggins v. Smith, compiled by Teresa Norris (August 10, 2015).

IAC Wiggins to Present - Summaries of all published successful ineffective assistance of counsel cases from Wiggins v. Smith to present, compiled by Teresa Norris and HAT counsel  (December 31, 2019).