Criminal appeals can prevent injustice in Maryland

On behalf of Jack B. Rubin, PA posted in Criminal Appeals on Wednesday, October 10, 2012.

Criminal appeals can seem especially important for those Americans who are convicted of homicide and other serious crimes. One woman who was convicted of murder in Maryland is continuing the fight to tell her side of the story. That constitutional right to fight for justice guarantees such individuals the right to file criminal appeals. This woman filed just such an appeal earlier this year, and the state’s Attorney General recently filed the government’s official answer to that appeal.

In this particular criminal appeal, the woman alleges that she was burdened with ineffective counsel in her 2003 criminal trial. It is claimed that her original defense attorneys failed to explore her history of mental illness. It is also alleged that her defense counsel improperly allowed her to waive her right to remain silent and should not have called to the stand a specific defense witness who may have harmed her case.

The woman’s appeal seems to mainly center around allegations that her defense did not properly investigate her history of mental illness. Some defendants with patterns of mental illness may avoid criminal liability for alleged wrongdoing if they did not have the capacity to differentiate right from wrong at the time of the purported crime. Such a pattern of mental illness could certainly have helped this woman in her own murder trial, if it could have been documented by compelling evidence.

While it’s not yet clear how this woman’s latest appeal will play out, it does further illustrate just how important such criminal appeals are to the American justice system. Not every person who is accused of a crime in Maryland is guilty. Not even every person who is convicted of wrongdoing actually committed the crime of which they were convicted. That is why criminal appeals like this one can prove so crucial, since a successful appeal can right a wrong and ensure that true justice is done.

Source: Maryland Coast Dispatch, “Md. Attorney General Answers Erika Sifrit Appeal,” Sept. 28, 2012

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