Bloomberg Law
Feb. 15, 2022, 4:01 PM

Death Sentence Properly Vacated Due to Lawyer’s Inexperience

Bernie Pazanowski
Bernie Pazanowski

A Nevada death-row inmate is entitled to federal relief from his sentence because his trial lawyer was inexperienced and ineffective presenting his insanity defense, the Ninth Circuit said.

Mark Rogers was tried in 1981 for a triple homicide. His appointed counsel was Virginia Shane of the Nevada State Public Defender Office, who decided immediately that not guilty by reason of insanity was his only defense.

At the time, Shane was the only staff in the satellite office handling Rogers’ case and had a workload of 80 cases, including another capital case and a murder case. Shane had passed the Nevada ...