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Representation of a criminal defendant, at trial or on appeal, by a court-appointed lawyer or a retained lawyer, that involved errors that were so serious that they resulted in the denial of a fair trial. most errors do not rise to the level of ineffective assistance, though some are (such as failing to investigate the defendant’s background in a death-penalty case, where the evidence might have led jurors to impose a sentence of life without parole instead of death).

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