Jones v. Barnes Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Respondent presented his appointed counsel with a list of claims on which to base his appeal. His attorney found these to be untenable, and proceeded to argue the appeal on different grounds. Respondent now claims ineffective assistance of counsel.

Facts of the case

Question

Does court-assigned defense counsel in a criminal case have a constitutional duty to raise every nonfrivolous issue suggested by the Defendant?

Answer

“No. Reversed.
No decision of this Court suggests that an indigent defendant has a constitutional right to compel appointed counsel to press nonfrivolous points requested by the client, if counsel, as a matter of professional judgment, decides not to present those points.

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    Conclusion

    The Court found that there was no requirement that each nonfrivolous claim be raised on appeal. The decision regarding what issues to present was left in the discretion of counsel, who was required to represent his client to the best of his ability. The court found that appellate counsel met that standard in his representation of Barnes.

    • Case Brief: 1983
    • Petitioner: Jones
    • Respondent: Barnes
    • Decided by: Burger Court

    Citation: 463 US 745 (1983)
    Argued: Feb 22, 1983
    Decided: Jul 5, 1983