Criminal Justice

Defense Lawyer Holds Possible Record for Most Clients Sentenced to Death

A Texas criminal defense lawyer has had 20 of his clients sentenced to death, a possible record.

The New York Times profiles the lawyer, Jerry Guerinot, talks to his critics, and looks at one of his recent cases involving a British woman who recently lost a bid for U.S. Supreme Court review.

“A good way to end up on death row in Texas is to be accused of a capital crime and have Jerry Guerinot represent you,” the Times reports.

In the case of Linda Carty, the British woman, a federal judge concluded that Guerinot “made an imperfect attempt to avoid conviction and death.” But “the Constitution does not require perfection in trial representation,” the judge said. Carty’s new lawyer, Michael Goldberg of Baker Botts, views the case differently. He says mistakes made were egregious enough to merit a new trial, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Carty was convicted in a plot to murder a neighbor and claim the woman’s son as her own. She says she was framed, according to Times Online and the Houston Chronicle.

Carty told a documentary filmmaker that Guerinot, her court-appointed lawyer, interviewed her just once, for 15 minutes, only weeks before her trial. He didn’t contact the British consulate, which has since hired lawyers to represent her. Nor did Guerinot interview potential witnesses, her lawyer says.

Guerinot didn’t talk to the New York Times, but he told the Observer in 2007 that judges gave him the toughest cases. “I think it’s a recognition that if I represent them, the state is in for one hell of a fight,” he said. “Nothing goes down easy.” He has since given up capital work, the Times says.

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