The Champion

November 2003 , Page 30 

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Staying Luce

By Jon May, Carol Cohen

One of the most difficult decisions a lawyer has to make during the course of a trial is whether to put his client on the stand. Few choices are fraught with such danger, particularly in a close case. Since a defendant’s testimony may alone create a reasonable doubt or eliminate all doubt whatsoever, the choice can be an agonizing one. The numerous factors that counsel must take into consideration can be so subtle and so interrelated that some lawyers simply despair at making any decision at all; some adopting a policy of never putting their client on the stand unless the client absolutely insists. Of the myriad of factors that enter into the decision whether to have the defendant testify, the possibility that the client will be impeached with his or her prior convictions or bad acts is unique. This is because under the decision of the Supreme Court in Luce v. United States1 it may be necessary for counsel to put his client on the stand in order to have any

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