The Washington State Supreme Court explored the meaning of “counsel” as opposed to “effective counsel” for the first time when it considered if an attorney licensed only out-of-state violated two criminal defendants’ constitutional right to counsel while representing them at trial.

The 5-4 majority said that Idaho attorney Robert Van Idour’s representation of Robert Ayerst and Justin Lewis in criminal trials did not violate their Sixth Amendment rights or amount to a structural error—despite the fact that he was not licensed to practice in Washington and he “displayed a shocking disregard for the admission process” in accordance with the admission to practice rules requirements.