A person accused of a crime has a right to the effective assistance of trial counsel. When that right is violated, defendants seek relief by arguing that their attorney was ineffective. This article addresses a situation in which a class of defendants is deprived of any opportunity to ever argue that trial counsel was ineffective. In Pennsylvania, ineffectiveness claims generally must be deferred to the post-conviction stage of a case instead of being litigated during the direct appeal. To be eligible for post-conviction relief, however, a defendant must be serving a sentence when the court issues a ruling. For those defendants with too short of a sentence to litigate a post-conviction petition, there is no way to argue that trial counsel was ineffective. This means that a defendant may have been convicted solely because of trial counsel's ineffectiveness, but yet has no way to remedy this constitutional error.
Kirk J. Henderson,
The Right to Argue That Trial Counsel Was Constitutionally Ineffective,
Duq. L. Rev.
Available at: https://dsc.duq.edu/dlr/vol45/iss1/2