Legal malpractice involves a licensed attorney either making highly unprofessional mistakes, breaching their fiduciary duty to their client or being incompetent in the representation that they provide. Lawyers can make mistakes in any kind of legal practice, but mistakes during criminal proceedings can have the most catastrophic consequences for their clients.
Part of what an attorney does is help a criminal defendant navigate the difficult process of going through court. Handling a jury is a big part of that process. There are two major mistakes related to the role of a jury in a criminal trial that could be legal malpractice on the part of a lawyer.
They don’t look for conflicts of interest when choosing jurors
The jury selection process is crucial to the fairness of the trial that follows it. An attorney should ask each potential juror questions about their personal background to rule out those who have personal experience or bias that will influence their neutrality during the court proceedings.
If an attorney fails to determine whether an individual juror was a victim of the same kind of crime, that mistake could compromise the likelihood of success in court.
They don’t teach their client how to present themselves
Authenticity is important, but so is showing a jury the best side of yourself. Dressing a certain way, speaking respectfully and presenting the most sympathetic parts of your personal story could all play a role in how a jury perceives you.
A good lawyer will give you some guidance and possibly even practice in presenting yourself for the jury’s consideration. Everything from the clothing that you wear to the language that you use could alter the way that the jury views you have the charges against you.
If another lawyer reviews your case and determines that a different approach could have changed the outcome, your original lawyer’s mistakes might constitute malpractice. Those convicted of a crime because their lawyer gave them bad advice or failed to advocate for them could have grounds to make a claim against the lawyer for legal malpractice and may possibly be able to appeal their conviction due to inadequate counsel.