Tag: right to counsel

Supreme Court: No Right to an Ethical Lawyer

The Supreme Court issued an opinion today in a prominent Michigan murder case, Burt v. Titlow. Details here. Shorter version: There is no constitutional right to an ethical lawyer. If your lawyer violates ethics rules in advising you or preparing your case, tough luck. Andrew Cohen has more.

The opinion is here. No surprise it was written by Justice Alito. Andrew says: [More...]

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Supreme Court Rules Right to Lawyer Begins At First Court Appearance

The Supreme Court ruled today that the right to a lawyer begins when a defendant if first brought before a magistrate or judge after arrest, even if prosecutors were not involved in the arrest or court appearance. The Court expressly rejects the "prosecutorial awareness" test. The case is Rothgery v. Gillespie County, No. 07-0440. The opinion is here (pdf).

The court ruled 8-1 Monday in favor of Walter Rothgery, whose request for a lawyer was denied by local Texas authorities for six months. Rothgery was arrested in Texas for carrying a gun as a convicted felon, based on a background check that erroneously showed a felony drug conviction in California.

A lawyer would have quickly shown that the report of the previous conviction was mistaken, which would have eliminated the reason for the arrest in the first place.

The issue for the Court was, "Whether the Sixth Amendment right to counsel attaches to defendants brought before a magistrate and jailed pending posting of bond if prosecutors were not involved in the arrest or court appearance."[More...]

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