The Philadelphia Inquirer examined more than 125 capital murder trials in Pennsylvania - 69 in Philadelphia alone - that state and federal appeals courts have reversed or sent back for new hearings because mistakes by defense lawyers deprived the accused of a fair trial.
That amounts to nearly one-third of the 391 capital convictions in Pennsylvania since the modern death penalty took effect in 1978.
An Inquirer review of death-penalty appeals spanning three decades found that defense lawyers in these high-stakes cases failed their clients in ways large and small.
Lawyers fighting for defendants' very lives often spend little time preparing their cases and put on only the barest defense. They neglect basic steps, such as interviewing defendants, seeking out witnesses, and investigating a defendant's background.
The Inquirer provides a glimpse into the rampant ineffective representation promoted by a system that grossly overworks and under pays defense counsel.
To read more: http://articles.philly.com/2011-10-23/news/30313341_1_lawyers-in-capital-cases-death-penalty-appeals-death-penalty