Music is replete with songs about people who had some bad stuff happen to them at their trial and who need an appellate lawyer. So, I am kicking off a weekly series featuring songs about people who need a good criminal appeals or habeas lawyer. To kick things off, let’s listen to Steve Earle from 1991, singing “Billy Austin.” Billy needed a good appellate lawyer, and now it’s a little late. As you listen, see what issues you can spot. There’s a pretty good ineffective assistance of counsel claim in here, and it also appears that some mitigation got left on the table. He called the police on himself — acceptance of responsibility. But maybe it just makes him sound more cold.
We find out pretty quickly that Billy wasn’t tried in Georgia. One, he got a “court appointed lawyer,” which we don’t really fund for death penalty defendants in Georgia. Also, his “trial was over quickly.” Defendants in death cases in Georgia don’t really get a speedy trial. They languish in the county jail.