Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When is a Criminal Defense Attorney Considered Incompetent to the Level of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel?

In 1996 Richard Rosario was convicted of murder in Bronx County New York. The only evidence against Rosario was the testimony of two witnesses whom picked his photo out of a book of police photos. There was no motive for the crime, since Rosario did not know the victim, or the two witnesses.

For the defense of this murder Rosario had the powerful and persuasive evidence that for the entire month June, 1996, Rosario was living in the State of Florida, and had 12 alibi witnesses whom were willing to testify to that fact.

Unfortunately his court appointed lawyer only called two of those witnesses to testify. The prosecutor was able to convince the jury during his summations that those two witnesses were close friends of Rosario and lied on his behalf.

The Federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in denying Rosario a new trial even though his court appointed lawyer performance was a “colossal failure”, involving “uncommonly bad mistake.” Fortunately for Rosario Chief Judge Jacobs dissented with the majority decision, and the matter is now before the United States Supreme Court, which will decide next week whether to take the case.

Hopefully the United States Supreme Court will get it right next week and agree to hear the case and grant a new trial for Mr. Rosario who has been incarcerated since 1996.

More often than we might think decisions that are made by defense counsel can sometimes be classified as ineffective, thus denying the defendant his constitutional right as guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. During every criminal trial every decision made by defense counsel has enormous consequences for the defendant, and every decision made must be made with the out-most competency expected of competent legal counsel, which can only come from experience and knowledge of the law.

In New Jersey every defendant convicted of a crime has up to five years to file a petition for post conviction relief requesting the trial court and than the appellate court if necessary, grant a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Although rarely granted, in some cases the performance of trial counsel was so deficient as to warrant a new trial.

Attorney Sanzone has 21 years of experience in defending individuals charged with Federal and State crimes, and has dedicated his practice to giving competent and vigorous representation to each and every one of his clients.

Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.

Elizabeth, New Jersey

(908) 354-7007

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