Attorney Admits Ineffective Defense Led to Client’s Death Sentence

A recent article by Mark Curriden in the ABA Journal examines how lauded defense attorney Lionel Barrett’s ineffective counsel may have landed his client, Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman, on death row. Having interviewed Barrett for the piece, Curriden presents compelling evidence that Barrett’s lack of preparation for trial, which included failing to review Abdur’Rahman’s extensive history of mental illness and abuse, directly contributed to a death sentence. Barrett does not deny the charges of incompetency, stating, “My biggest failure was that I did not explore more into the facts of his mental illness and mental history… I have no excuse for how I mishandled this case.” Curriden also discusses how Barrett failed to have a key piece of evidence, Abdur’Rahman’s “bloody” coat, tested by experts. The blood that supposedly covered the defendant’s coat was actually paint from his work.

After coming within 36 hours of execution before intervention by the Supreme Court, Abdur’Rahman’s case is now being litigated through the appeals process by Nashville attorney William Redick. Redick, who states that he is a good friend of Lionel Barrett, is quoted in the article, saying, “Lionel was a damn good lawyer … but his defense—or lack thereof—is why Abu-Ali may be put to death.”

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One Response

  1. Errol Washington says:

    I recently was released after serving 18 years due to lionel Barrett’s incompetence (I completed my sentence). I argued the very same thing that Lionel is now admitting too, including prosecutorial misconduct, the prosecutor a federal prosecutor (larry Moon) has since been declared incompetent by the U.S. Attorney’s office. The only motion Mr. Barrett filed in preparation for my trial was a no objection motion to the prosecutor’s request for an extension of time. I had two misconduct hearings and established a clear case of incompetence and misconduct but never received a just ruling.

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