Padilla and the Delivery of Integrated Criminal Defense


The traditional starting point for Sixth Amendment jurisprudence is the individual defense attorney, acting alone. Padilla v. Kentucky, however, replaced the image of the lawyer as a heroic and individualistic figure with an image of the lawyer as a team manager consulting with other professionals to provide integrated legal services.

Public defender organizations already experiment with various methods for delivering the best service to clients with potential immigration issues mixed in with their criminal law issues. Some of those methods involve contracting out the immigration work to specialists outside the organization; others entail bringing the immigration expertise inside the organization.

The Padilla holding gives some impetus to the insider strategy. It increases the costs to a defender organization if one of its lawyers fails to recognize a straightforward immigration issue. As a result, in close cases, defender organizations will now become somewhat more likely to bring this function in-house, where it will be easier to monitor the quality of the work. In this way, Padilla tilts the field toward larger defender organizations with greater specialization of function and more coordination of effort among attorneys—in short, toward a more bureaucratic criminal defense.

About the Author

Professor of Law, Wake Forest University.

By uclalaw