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The Champion

September/October 2003 , Page 56 

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Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'

By Barry Tarlow

Read more RICO Report columns.

You think trial skills are important? Think again. District Judge John Martin recently concluded that, in the post-guidelines world, “Counsel’s ability to persuade the judge or jury is now far less important than his ability to persuade the prosecutor that the defendant should be allowed to cooperate with the government.” United States v. Fernandez, 98 Cr. 961 (S.D.N.Y. May 3, 2000). Judge Martin portrayed the primary obligation of a criminal defense attorney as eliciting a prosecutor’s promise to “consider” requesting a sentencing reduction in exchange for the client’s activities as an informer.  

His opinion is only one among a flurry of cases suggesting that counsel has a duty to promptly roll a client. 

While there is no doubt that defendants facing a stiff prison sentence are acutely in need of “the guiding hand of counsel,” Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25, 40 (1972), “an attorney’s ethical duty to advance the interests of a client is limited by an equally sol

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