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Effective Assistance and Guilty Pleas

The US Supreme Court has issued an orders list after its Friday conference.  (This time of year, the Court announces the cases taken on Friday rather than waiting until the Monday orders list to provide more time order to get them briefed and on the oral argument calendar for the present term.)  Three criminal cases were taken up.

Missouri v. Frye, No. 10-444, and Lafler v. Cooper, No. 10-209, deal with effective assistance and guilty pleas, related to an issue presently before the Court (and ripe for decision) in Premo v. Moore, No. 09-658.  The Court has added the question, "What remedy, if any, should be provided for ineffective assistance of counsel during plea bargain negotiations if the defendant was later convicted and sentenced pursuant to constitutionally adequate procedures?"

Why did the Court take up two more cases on this issue.  Possibly Moore is going to be decided on narrow grounds, and they need some more vehicles to flesh out the rule.

McNeill v. United States, No. 10-5258, is yet another Armed Career Criminal Act case. The Fourth Circuit opinion is here.


I think the Sixth is going to get a pretty sharp slapdown in Lafler v. Cooper. Whatever on thinks of the merits of the "I would have pled guilty if my lawyer was better" claim, it certainly is NOT clearly established Supreme Court law that the result of a fair trial can be undone because ineffective rep prevented a criminal from pleading guilty. It could easily be 9-0.

As for Premo, it's pretty obvious that the murderer didn't even prove counsel was ineffective, let alone prejudice. And given the AEDPA standard of review, it's a wonder this one wasn't a per curiam reversal.

re Cooper: Eric Restuccia, Michigan SG, strikes again! Another cert grant for Eric.

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