They Snooze, Clients Lose

Published September 5, 2011

In a classic case of lawyers protecting their own, a federal circuit court of appeals ruled recently a lawyer who takes a catnap in court isn’t “ineffective” unless he sleeps through “a substantial portion” of the trial.

A defendant’s criminal conviction can be overturned if a court finds there was “ineffective assistance of counsel.” The court didn’t define how long is “substantial,” but it found that snoozing through the client’s cross-examination wasn’t enough for reversal.

The ruling follows identical ones in three other appellate circuits.

Source: Kevin Underhill, “How Long Can Your Lawyer Nap Before It’s ‘Ineffective Assistance of Counsel?'” lowering the bar, August 4, 2011