Two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on plea bargains will have a large impact on the criminal justice system, according to Ron Wright, a professor at Wake Forest University School of Law.
In two separate cases this week, a divided Supreme Court ruled that defendants have a constitutional right to effective representation by their attorneys in plea negotiations which includes advising and informing their clients when prosecutors present plea offers.
See LAFLER V. COOPER, Docket for 10-209:Anthony Cooper rejected a plea offer after getting bad legal advice from his attorney, who told Cooper that prosecutors could not prove an element of the crime. Cooper was sentenced to 30 years instead of the seven years he could have gotten under the plea offer.
The Los Angeles Times reports, A System of Plea Bargains:
The right to a fair trial by a jury of one’s peers is one of the most sacred guarantees of the Bill of Rights, but the dirty secret is that it isn’t exercised very often. More than 97% of federal convictions and 94% of state convictions result from guilty pleas. Recognizing that reality, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 this week that defendants have a constitutional right to be informed by their lawyers about the possibility of a plea bargain and the implications of turning one down.
For full article see: Supreme Court rulings on plea bargains to have large impact, local lawyers say by Michael Hewlett | Winston-Salem Journal
- Supreme Court expands rights of accused in plea bargains (thenewstribune.com)
- Perspectives on the import and impact of Lafler and Frye (sentencing.typepad.com)
- High Court Throws Out ‘Bad Lawyer’ Convictions (npr.org)
- SCOTUS recognizes ineffective-assistance claims in Lafler and Frye! (sentencing.typepad.com)