Want to Appeal a Conviction Because of Poor Legal Representation?
Criminal Appeal solicitors are frequently contacted by clients who want to appeal because they feel that they were badly represented.
The Court of Appeal have made it clear that only in extreme circumstances will they allow an appeal as a result of bad legal representation.
You will need to show that not only were the legal team incompetent but this incompetence led to identifiable issues in the trial which in turn made your conviction unsafe.
In a case involving allegations of terrorism one of the defendant’s barristers was so bad he was disciplined by the Bar Council. As a result of his behaviour the Judge and other barristers in court had to decide whether the case should be abandoned and started again. One of the things that persuaded the Judge not to abandon the trial was the fear that the same barrister might be instructed again.
There are pages and pages of description of what is clearly appalling representation, including making personal remarks about the Judge to the jury comparing him to a dodgy used car salesman and saying the Judge, the prosecution and other defence barristers were biased. He argued a defence that did not exist in law despite being told this by the Judge. Then despite this he argued the defence before the jury in the closing argument. He also decided not to call his client to give evidence.
Despite what was clearly awful representation the Court of Appeal said there were no grounds for appeal. The reason for this was that they felt that the evidence against the defendant was overwhelming. There were undercover recorded conversations which were very damaging for the defendant and the only possible defence he could have had was to say that even though he was recorded talking about terrorism acts he did not mean it. The Court took the view, in effect, that even a good barrister would not have been successful in his defence because the case against him was so strong.
It all comes down to whether the conviction was unsafe rather than just the level of representation.
It is not enough to show that a different legal team would have taken a different approach.
In order to succeed you will have to show that the representation was so bad that no reasonable lawyer would have acted like that AND that this made the difference between you being found guilty rather than not guilty.
There are cases where the Court of Appeal have allowed an appeal on the basis of poor representation.
In a case dating back to 1998 a defendant was accused of rape. The defence team managed to obtain a recording of a conversation between the complainant and a prosecution witness. In this recording the complainant tells the witness what to say, tells her not to mention certain facts and what to say when cross examined. For some reason the defence did not put this evidence before the jury. The jury were unaware of this recording. The Court of Appeal took the view that although the recording could be said to be ambiguous every member of the Court of Appeal said they would have played the recording to the jury and that it was entirely unreasonable not to have played the recording. As a result they said that the conviction was unsafe because the jury may not have believed the complainant if they had heard this recording. The appeal was allowed.
After every conviction the barrister in the case has to provide an advice on appeal. The difficulty with these sort of cases is that they are unlikely to advise you to appeal on the basis of their bad representation.
If you have been let down by your legal team at trial and have been advised there are no grounds for appeal we can review the papers fully and the representation provided and advise you whether there are genuine and realistic grounds of appeal.
For a free initial discussion of your case call us on 01623 397200