Defense Attorney Required To Follow Through On Appeal

1967

In Anders v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that counsel appointed to represent a criminal defendant must “support his client’s appeal to the best of his ability.” The Court finds that this constitutional obligation was violated when the defense counsel appointed to represent the defendant on appeal simply submitted a letter to the court expressing his opinion that the appeal had no merit, and withdrew from the case. The Court rules that the defense attorney has a duty to fully investigate the case’s merits and fully justify his reasons for refusing to file an appeal. In addition, the defendant should have an opportunity to rebut the attorney’s arguments, and the appeals court should have the leeway to reject the attorney’s arguments, to permit the appeal, and to appoint new counsel.