Poor representation by attorneys is a widespread problem in capital cases. Most defendants in capital cases cannot afford their own lawyer. The lawyer appointed to them most likely is not being paid much, overworked, and most likely lacks experience in death penalty cases. In some cases, there have been lawyers that were so inexperienced, they did not even know how to prepare for sentencing. Other lawyers have slept through parts of trials or arrived drunk. It is a disservice to those who deserve a fair trial to be given incompetent lawyers just because one cannot afford his or her own attorney.
In older cases, DNA evidence and recanting by witnesses is a larger problem than poor defense attorneys in capital cases. There are almost monthly headlines touting people released from prison after years of incarceration because of new evidence presented. How many innocent people have been executed because of poor evidence or simply circumstantial evidence?