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SCOTUS Criminal Law Decisions

There are four criminal law decisions from the United States Supreme Court this morning:

In McCoy v. Louisiana, No. 16-8255, the Court held that defense counsel cannot admit that defendant committed the criminal act over his objection, even if counsel's best judgment as to strategy is to admit the act and argue mental state for a lower degree of crime.  In this case, counsel wanted to go for second-degree rather than first-degree murder, while McCoy wanted to claim he was out of the state at the time.  6-3 opinion by Justice Ginsburg, with Justices Alito, Thomas, and Gorsuch dissenting.

I agree with the defendant on this one, at least as the facts are framed by the Court.  The goals of representation are for the client to decide, and if the client wants to double down rather than go for a lesser included, that is his choice.  Also, enabling the client's choice in this manner may well reduce the number of defendants who exercise their constitutional right to be a fool* and represent themselves.

In United States v. Sanchez-Gomez, No. 17-312, the Court dismissed as moot a case involving routine shackling of defendants during non-jury proceedings.

Two Fourth Amendment cases were decided today:
In Byrd v. United States, No. 16-1371, the Court held that a person who is allowed to drive a rental car by the renter, even though not listed as an additional driver in violation of the rental agreement, has a reasonable expectation of privacy so as to be able to raise a Fourth Amendment claim regarding a search of the car.  The Court left the merits of the claim for decision on remand.  It looks like a reasonable search to me.

In Dahda v. United States, No. 17-43, the Court held that evidence obtained under a wiretap order was not subject to suppression because the order authorized interception outside the issuing judge's jurisdiction, given that the interceptions in this case occurred within the jurisdiction.

The Court did not take up any new criminal cases for review today, only two civil cases.

The sports gambling case, Murphy v. NCAA, has some interesting implications.  I will discuss that one in another post.

*  See Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 852 (1975) (Blackmun, J., dissenting).

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