Unconstitutional to allow defense counsel to concede guilt over defendant’s objection: USSC

The Supreme Court of the United States of America recently held that it is unconstitutional to allow defense counsel to concede guilt over the defendant’s intransigent and unambiguous objection, even when defense counsel’s experienced-based view is that confessing guilt offers the defendant the best chance to avoid the death penalty.

“The Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to choose the objective of his defense and to insist that his counsel re­frain from admitting guilt, even when counsel’s experienced-based view is that confessing guilt offers the defendant the best chance to avoid the death penalty”, the Court ordered.

The Court said, “The Sixth Amendment guarantees to each criminal defendant the assistance of counsel for his defense. The defendant does not surrender control entirely to counsel, for the Sixth Amendment, in granting to the accused personally the right to make his defense speaks of the ‘assistance’ of counsel, and an assistant, however ex­pert, is still an assistant.”

“Thus, when a client makes it plain that the objective of his defense is to maintain innocence of the charged criminal acts and pursue an acquittal, his lawyer must abide by that objective and may not override it by con­ceding guilt”, the Court added.

Accused pleaded not guilty for allegedly committing three murders, but his counsel admitted his guilt in front of the jury with a strategy that confessing guilt offers the accused the best chance to avoid the death penalty. The jury found him guilty of all the three murders. The case has been reversed and remanded.

About DSLegal

A full service international law firm based in New Delhi with an office in Chicago, USA.
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