The Treason Act of 1696 provided a right to counsel in treason cases in England and laid the framework for the right to counsel both in England and in the United States. Evidence suggests that the Treason Act may have influenced the Framers of the Constitution; thus, any historical understanding of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel should consider the quality of representation treason defendants received. If, as appears to be the case, treason defendants had competent, experienced lawyers representing them, then the Sixth Amendment right to counsel may well include that right to such representation. This Essay suggest that the Court's current ineffective assistance of counsel doctrine does not adequately reflect this historical understanding of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
Erica J. Hashimoto,
An Originalist Argument for a Sixth Amendment Right to Competent Counsel
, 99 Iowa L. Rev 1999
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/1018