Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Crab Cribs and Shrimp Sales

If you’re as obsessed with the true-crime podcast Serial as everyone else is, this Vox interview with Colin Miller may be right up your alley. Miller is a law professor who has taken to writing about legal issues that come up in the podcast.

Vox: How difficult is it to prove ineffective assistance of counsel? My impression is that it’s very hard — there are people whose lawyers fell asleep during the trial, and they didn’t win on that appeal.

Miller: If you are looking at it empirically, there are a number of studies that look at what actually happens [in ineffective assistance of counsel cases]. That claim is successful between 1 and 8 percent of the time.

In terms of the legal standards, Strickland v. Washington [a 1984 court case about when ineffective assistance of counsel violated the Sixth Amendment] set up a two-pronged test. The first prong asks: was there an error or errors by defense counsel that caused the performance to fall below a prevailing standard of reasonableness?

The first season of Serial is wrapping up later this week, but the fun doesn’t have to stop there. Miller is up to sixteen posts about the legal issues involved. We can law nerd all over this, guys! I’ll get the highlighters and you get the index cards.