All criminal defendants are constitutionally entitled to effective representation of counsel. Unfortunately, lack of resources, time, and skills often renders many capital counsel ineffective, denying numerous capital defendants that fundamental right and often resulting in a sentence of death.
In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court indicated in Roper v. Simmons that the death penalty must be reserved for “the worst of the worst,” i.e., offenders who commit “‘the most serious crimes’ and whose extreme culpability makes them ‘the most deserving of execution.’” Quality of counsel, however, is a far better predictor of who gets sentenced to death and ultimately executed. The death penalty is arbitrary and capricious, in part because the “worst of the worst” sometimes describes the quality of representation for those facing it.
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