“A fair trial, not a perfect trial”

Defendant charged with burglarizing police precinct.

New York’s highest has again denied an ineffective assistance claim, saying, “A defendant is entitled to a fair trial, not a perfect trial.” People v. Cummings (NY 2011).  The defendant was convicted of burglarizing a police precinct, a place where your average crook would want to sneak out of, not in.

The perfectionist standard to which criminal trials are held has been a serious problem for decades, driving many a fine jurist into less demanding fields, such as brain surgery or skydiving. The annals of law are replete with judges, defense lawyers and even prosecutors having nervous breakdowns over their inability to provide criminal defendants with a perfect trial.

According to the Court, a trial is fair so long as the defense attorney’s mistake is not “egregious.” This would seem to conflict with the silly old federal constitutional standard requiring only that an attorney’s mistake be “unreasonable” before looking to see whether it affected the trial.

It’s high time for a change. “A fair trial, not a perfect trial” should be carved onto the facade of every courthouse in the state. For appellate courts, the inscription should be, “Good enough for government work.”

“He was entitled to a fair operation, not a perfect operation.”

About Appellate Squawk

A satirical blog for criminal defense lawyers and their friends who won't give up without a squawk.
This entry was posted in Law, Law & Parody. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.