Washington Law Review


In June 2009, the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division II, reversed Kristina Grier’s second-degree murder conviction in State v. Grier. The court concluded that Grier had received ineffective assistance of counsel because her attorney failed to request jury instructions for any lesser-included offenses, choosing instead to pursue an all-or-nothing defense strategy. That same month, Division I issued a contrary opinion, finding the pursuit of an all-or-nothing strategy reasonable. The Washington State Supreme Court has granted certiorari and will soon hear oral arguments in Grier. This Comment reviews federal and state courts’ approaches to questions of ineffective assistance of counsel involving all-or-nothing strategies and argues that, when the Washington State Supreme Court resolves State v. Grier, it should review attorneys’ strategic decisions under a highly deferential standard. This standard would align with state precedent and federal practice and would preserve trial attorneys’ discretion, provide defendants with a true adversarial process, and repair the split State v. Grier created.

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