Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Ineffective Counsel in Plea Bargainss
Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hold oral arguments in two cases in which the defendants' lawyers were ineffective at the plea bargaining stage, resulting in the clients turning down plea bargains and getting much more severe sentences after losing at trial.
There is no constitutional right to a plea bargain, but there is a constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel.
Considering that 97% of all federal convictions result from plea bargains rather than trial, the significance of the Supreme Court ruling will be big. [More...]
In Padilla v. Kentucky, which addressed the flip side of the question -- failure of counsel to inform a defendant pleading guilty that his plea would result in his removal from the U.S. -- Justice Stevens wrote:
“The negotiation of a plea bargain is a critical stage of the litigation for purposes of the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel,”
For more on the issue, see Prof. Stefano Bibas, Regulating the Plea-Bargaining Market: From Caveat Emptor to Consumer Protection:
“It is astonishing,” he wrote, “that a $100 credit-card purchase of a microwave oven is regulated more carefully than a guilty plea that results in years of imprisonment.”
And, this amicus brief filed in one of the two cases being argued tomorrow.
|< Sunday Morning Open Thread | Income Inequality Hits The National Consciousness >|