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Ineffective Assistance Claims in Plea Bargains: The Supreme Court Confronts the Road Not Taken

This past March, the United States Supreme Court rather quietly effected what one commentator called “…the single greatest revolution in the criminal justice process since Gideon v. Wainwright provided indigents the right to counsel.” (New York Times, March 21, 2012) While such pronouncements always involve risk of exaggeration or over-simplification, there is no doubt that the decisions in Missouri v. Frye, 566 U.S. — (2012) and Lafler v. Cooper, 566—- (2012), at least carry the potential to measurably impact how plea bargains are negotiated and entered in our state and federal courts.

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