Unintended Consequences: The Impact of the Court's Recent Cases on Structural Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims

Lauren Sudeall Lucas, Georgia State University College of Law

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The Supreme Court’s recent Sixth Amendment cases have garnered much attention for their potential impact on ineffective assistance of counsel claims asserted in the context of a criminal case. This short article explores the unintended consequences of these decisions on structural ineffective assistance of counsel claims made in the civil context alleging that systemic deficiencies are likely to lead to right to counsel violations. The article concludes that the Court’s departure from a trial-centered conception of the right to counsel, its willingness to articulate specific pre-trial duties of counsel and its more pragmatic approach towards enforcing the Sixth Amendment will help those seeking indigent defense reform to establish the likelihood of future injury, a necessary element of successful structural challenges.