The Sixth Amendment sets out our constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel. To that end, defense attorneys must be provided with the resources needed for adequate defense investigation before trial. Every criminal case needs to be competently investigated by a diligent defense investigator, even if the client appears guilty.
I have investigated multiple cases in the post-conviction phase in which the client confessed, was convicted at trial without the benefit of defense investigation, and when I later investigated on their behalf I discovered significant evidence of innocence that certainly might have changed the outcome of the trial had it been presented at that time.
Additionally, far too often courts do not provide adequate funding for a comprehensive investigation. Some cases are more complex than others and courts don’t always consider this fact when dispensing defense funds and approving budget caps. Meanwhile, the prosecution has the basically unlimited resource of the entire police department, government run forensic labs, and their own office investigators.
If we are innocent until proven guilty, then why do the courts not grant more resources to defend our innocence? How can we make changes to effect a more balanced justice system? Defense attorneys must remain diligent, courts must provide adequate funding, and every serious criminal case must be investigated by defense prior to trial, even if the client appears guilty.