Brief filed: 11/20/2017
McCoy v. Louisiana
United States Supreme Court; Case No. 16-8255
Decision below 218 So.3d 535 (La. Oct. 19, 2016).
The accused's express decision whether to concede guilt is protected by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. Failure to heed a client's decision to maintain his innocence violates fundamental rights. Conceding guilt against a client's express desire compromises the fundamental right to plead not guilty. Conceding guilt against a client's express desire compromises the fundamental right regarding testimony on one's own behalf. A defense lawyer's trial strategy may not override a client's express decision to maintain innocence. Making concessions can be a sound strategy. Regardless of potential strategic advantages, defense lawyers may not override a client's express desire to maintain innocence. Permitting defense lawyers to override a client's desire to maintain innocence undermines the attorney-client relationship. Defense lawyers have strategic options beyond conceding guilt.
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Clifford M. Sloan, Paul M. Kerlin, Sylvia Tsakos, and Andrew Hanson, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Washington, DC; Barbara E. Bergman, NACDL, Washington, DC.