Legal Ethics Forum: The Michael Skakel Retrial Order — Conflicts of Interest and Ineffective Assistance of Counsel.
Constructing a compelling narrative for the 1975 death of Martha Moxley, the Skakel prosecution successfully used new media technology and polished rhetoric to obtain a guilty conviction in a highly circumstantial case. Skakel’s defense attorney, Michael Sherman, did not show up for the game, resulting in an ugly, lopsided rout. The order granting Michael Skakel a retrial is a 136 page primer on what not to do as an advocate. As I wrote earlier today over on the legal skills blog, new media/visual rhetoric may have played a large role in securing Skakel’s conviction. Now that Skakel will receive a new trial because his defense was constitutionally ineffective, I hope the two sides are more equally situated in terms of their advocacy and rhetoric.