Facing Murder Charges? Don't Retain This Lawyer

Houston attorney Jerry Guerinot has a bad track record of defending capital murder cases in Texas: 20 of his clients have been executed. But he says judges give him the toughest cases: "The easy ones, somehow, never came to me."

Guerinot is in the spotlight for a case many say he mishandled as a public defender. The Supreme Court earlier this month rejected a request to review the murder conviction of Linda Carty, a British citizen convicted of murdering a 20-year-old woman and kidnapping her baby. She faces death by lethal injection, possibly as soon as this summer.

Of the many accusations leveled against Guerinot, one of the most common is that he never follows through on the simplest investigations for his clients. David R. Dow, a law professor at Houston University, told the New York Times that, "He doesn't even pick the low-hanging fruit which is hitting him in the head as he's walking under the tree." In Carty's case, he never even contacted the British consulate. The British government has since hired lawyers but it is too late. A federal judge in Houston, Vanessa D. Gilmore, called it a "a harsh result." Gilmore also said that while Guerinot made an "imperfect attempt" to save his client, "the Constitution does not require perfection in trial representation."

It also took Guerinot three months to get around to meeting with Carty. Carty said in a video interview, "I met [Guerinot] for less than 15 minutes. Once." In 2007, Guerinot told The Observer magazine that the fact he keeps getting the tough cases is "a recognition that if I represent them, the state is in for one hell of a fight. Nothing goes down easy."

Guerinot has stopped defending murder cases, and now focuses on "ordinary criminal cases."

[Image via]