Adam Liptak, in his admirable New York Times column, Sidebar (he covers the Supreme Court for the Times), has just written about death row clients, their lawyers in Alabama and the Supremes.
You must read it, especially if you have complaints about your own lawyer in a civil case. There are things you can do — and I’ve written a great deal on this subject, under the sub-category “Problems with your lawyer.” People on death row don’t have our options.
I wrote about one horrific legal fuck-up by the famous white shoe law firm Sullivan & Cromwell. Mr. Liptak touches on that case here. And there’s more.
According to Liptak, Judge Rosemary Barkett, of the federal appeals court in Atlanta, “identified the larger question that runs through these cases: why is it morally permissible to blame clients for their lawyers’ mistakes?”
“‘It is unjust and inequitable,’ she wrote, ‘to require death row inmates to suffer the consequences of their attorneys’ negligence.” Thank you, Judge Barkett.
You want to know what a really bad lawyer is? Read Adam Liptak’s piece.
I’m not saying, Hey, we civil plaintiffs who whine about our lawyers should stop whining because we are not on death row.
I am saying, aren’t we lucky that we have remedies to deal with bad lawyers, and the time and resources to do it?