Defendants in Plea Deals Keep Right to Claim Bad Lawyer

Defendants who plead guilty will no longer have to waive their right to claim later that their lawyers did a poor job representing them, under new Justice Department rules.

“Under this policy, no defendant will have to forgo their right to able representation in the course of pleading guilty to a crime,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement announcing the decision.

The decision will affect 36 of the department’s 93 U.S. attorney’s offices, which seek such waivers from defendants as part of plea agreements.

Such waivers have been criticized by defense lawyers, bar associations and public defenders. They argue that such waivers create a conflict-of-interest because lawyers have a personal interest in ensuring their representation is not later challenged as being ineffective.

“This new policy reaffirms the commitment by the department’s prosecutors to protecting the right to counsel and enhancing due process,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole said in a statement.

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