46 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2014 Last revised: 22 Apr 2014
Date Written: March 4, 2014
Defense lawyers whose clients are sentenced to death are virtually guaranteed to be accused of ineffective assistance of counsel. The question is how they will respond. On one hand, lawyers alleged to be ineffective are obligated under Guideline 10.13 of the American Bar Association’s Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases to continue to safeguard the interests of their former clients, a duty that includes full cooperation in appropriate legal strategies chosen to pursue the ineffectiveness claim. On the other hand, lawyers who are accused of ineffectiveness often react defensively to the allegation, reflexively viewing the claim of poor performance as an attack on their competency and reputation. To date, there has been no systematic attempt to understand how these tensions are mediated and resolved.
To fill this gap, this article explores the psychological dimensions of how lawyers can be expected to respond to allegations of ineffectiveness. Relying on empirical research into “motivated reasoning” – a phenomenon that describes the many ways in which people unconsciously seek out, interpret and recall information in a manner that is consistent with their pre-conceived wishes and desires – it argues that motivation can be expected to play a dominant role in how lawyers respond to alleged ineffectiveness. Further, because motivation exercises its power implicitly, efforts to encourage compliance with the obligations set forth in Guideline 10.13 must take into account the subtle psychological forces that influence behavior. Simply put: motivation matters.
Keywords: Death Penalty,Sentencing,Sixth Amendment,Ineffective Assistance of Counsel,Law and Psychology,Motivated Reasoning,Legal Ethics,Duty of Confidentiality,Attorney-Client Privilege
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Eldred, Tigran, Motivation Matters: Guideline 10.13 and Other Mechanisms for Preventing Lawyers from Surrendering to Self-Interest in Responding to Allegations of Ineffective Assistance in Death Penalty Cases (March 4, 2014). 42 Hofstra Law Review 473 (2014); New England Law | Boston Research Paper No. 14-05. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2404409