A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

In Case of Eyewitness vs. Alibi, a Question of Lawyers’ Competence
By ADAM LIPTAK
New York Times Website
Published: May 2, 2011

Richard Rosario was convicted of a murder that took place on Turnbull Avenue in the Bronx on June 19, 1996, based on the testimony of two witnesses who had picked his picture out of a book of police photos.

There was no other evidence linking him to the crime. He did not know the victim, and he did not know the witnesses. And there is powerful evidence that he was in Florida that entire month.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to decide next week whether to hear Mr. Rosario’s appeal, which claims his lawyers badly bungled his alibi defense.

The question of what may be expected of lawyers in terms of rudimentary competence has lately been high on the court’s agenda. In the last couple of months, the court has agreed to hear one case and stayed executions in two others presenting variations on that theme. Mr. Rosario’s case may interest the justices as well.

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