Brief of Amici Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers & Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of the Appellee.
Argument: The United States Supreme Court’s recent analysis in Hinton v. Alabama of defense counsel’s responsibilities to investigate and obtain expert assistance directly applies to this case. In Baxter v. Rose this court outlines a reasonableness standard for ineffective counsel comparing counsel’s actions to a range of competence demanded of attorneys in a criminal case. Hinton v. Alabama applies a reasonableness standard which requires trial counsel to research scientific and technical evidence essential to the defense of the case in order to be within the range of competence demanded of criminal defense attorneys. Investigation of the prosecution’s proposed scientific or technical evidence on critical facts essential to the defense is a necessary part of rendering constitutionally adequate counsel. Counsel’s investigation of forensic sciences and techniques related to a fact essential to a defense is critical because of the powerful impact expert testimony has at trial. The National Research Council of the National Academy of Science’s report on the forensic science community highlights the shortcomings of the field as well as the powerful impact that faulty forensic science can have on those accused of a crime. Extensive research has shown a positive correlation between faulty forensic science testimony and the wrongful conviction of those accused of a crime.