Complaint One A lawyer is supposed to "vigorously defend his client." Does this mean overlooking prosecutorial misconduct, witnesses and other wrongdoing? Read the Sunseri case and decide if Atty. Cappuccio "vigorously defended" his client.
Atty. Cappuccio responded with a scathing letter to Caught on 11-16-2000. Atty. Cappuccio also eventually sent a 4-5-1995 ruling from the Rhode Island Supreme Court [Case 94-148 CA (WM 93-61)] regarding Mr. Sunseri's application for post-conviction relief where he claimed ineffective assistance of counsel. The ruling states, in part, that Mr. Sunseri failed to sustain the burden of showing his counsel had been ineffective within the standard set forth in Strickland v. Washington. The ruling also states Atty. Cappuccio was "severely disadvantaged" in presenting a defense and that the strategy he used in cross-examining the victim was not unreasonable.
Attorney Cappuccio's letter to Caught and Sunseri's complaint made clear this was not a good lawyer/client relationship. As in all litigation, the reasons for strained relations are many and varied. Chief Justice Weisberger used to say,
"Appellate courts are right because they're final; they're not final because they're right."
Whether that statement applies in this case is unknown. We hope this case educates people on what is and is not ineffective assistance of counsel as interpreted by the courts. According to RI courts, this was not a case of ineffective assistance of counsel.