Distinguishing Cronic, the Court then held that it would be improper to require the government to prove prejudice when neither its actions nor those of the court created the error.
Cronic arose from a federal fraud trial (163) in which Cronic and two co-defendants were prosecuted for conspiring to commit mail fraud and for the use of a fictitious name, both in a large-scale check-kiting scheme.
And the Cronic court itself noted that "Cronic's case was not an ideal one for an aspiring criminal defense lawyer to cut his teeth on," and vacated the conviction.
The Court issued Cronic on the same day as Strickland, but remanded Cronic, which appears to have been an almost unanimous decision other than Justice Marshall's concurrence.
171) But the Court did not criticize the Tenth Circuit's test for ineffectiveness; instead it criticized the Tenth Circuit's coupling of Powell to Cronic's appeal insofar as Cronic did not have to show prejudice.
In conference, Chief Justice Burger called Cronic's "a phony claim," by which Cronic could not demonstrate any prejudice, because there simply was none.
Justice Brennan differentiated Cronic from Strickland because in Cronic the trial court had a role in pressing defense counsel to trial when he claimed that he was not ready, and in Strickland, the trial court had no such role.
Rainge (249) together presented an issue not directly considered in either Strickland or Cronic.
Conceding that certain circumstances make it impossible for even a good lawyer to effectively represent the defendant's case, the Cronic Court described those circumstances as extreme.
The Cronic and Strickland decisions reflect the Burger Court's characteristic refusal to look beyond the case at bar and consider the systemic consequences of decision.
In Cronic, by contrast, the issue before the Court was whether the Sixth Amendment required a new trial after the trial court refused to grant a thirty day continuance to enable inexperienced counsel to prepare for a complicated case.
The circumstantial indicators of ineffectiveness are stronger than in Cronic, and efforts by counsel to overcome those circumstances in one case conflict with the representation of clients in other cases.