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Name: United States v. Ross
Case #: 01-10277
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/11/2003
Subsequent History: None

Four months after his conviction for federal drug offenses, appellant learned that his lawyer had been suspended from practice prior to the start of his trial, and had never been admitted to practice in the federal court where he was convicted. On appeal, he argued that his Sixth Amendment right to counsel includes the right to a lawyer who is an active member of the bar, and that his rights were violated no matter how well his attorney performed. The appellate court here rejected the argument. Although it is true that counsel’s suspension may raise doubts about his competence, the actual effects of any such doubts are appropriately addressed under ineffective assistance of counsel standards, i.e. actual deficient performance plus prejudice. Here, the suspension did not render the verdict inherently unreliable. Ross may still attempt to show by way of collateral review that his attorney was, in fact, ineffective.