Monday, July 18, 2011

Performance Guidelines in Criminal Cases (2)

Last week we saw that the State Bar Board of Directors adopted the "Performance Guidelines for Non-Capital Criminal Defense Representation" early in 2011. The Guidelines provided a standardized "how to" of potential courses of action and best practices for every stage of a Texas state criminal proceeding. That is, from arrest through direct appeal. The Guidelines were detailed. However, they were not designed to micromanage the competent defense of a criminal case. Rather, the Guidelines created a framework through which criminal defense attorneys could deftly exercise their professional judgment. And just as importantly, the Guidelines were not designed as disciplinary rules. They were not designed as hard-line standards of practice when evaluating ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Instead, the Guidelines were a compilation of tools for use by defense attorneys, judges, and county officials to improve our criminal justice system.

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