Bad Plea Bargain Advice

Some sketches from today’s Supreme Court arguments in two cases of ineffective assistance of counsel during plea bargainning.

Anthony Cooper shot a fleeing woman in the legs. His lawyer advised him to reject the prosecutor’s offer of a reduced sentence in exchange for his plea of guilty telling him, erroneously, that because the wounds were below the waist he would be shielded from a charge of attempted murder.

The case is Lafler v. Cooper. Pictured above is Michigan Solicitor General John J. Bursch.  Below is the attorney arguing for Cooper, Valerie R. Newman. SC111031_Newman

In the second case, Missouri v. Frye, the defendant, charged with driving without a license was never told of a plea offer of 90 days, and wound up with a three year sentence.

Although a number of Justices seemed sypathetic to the poorly represented defendants. they questioned whether a real remedy was possible. Even the attorney representing Mr. Frye, Emmett D. Queener, conceeded, “There is never going to be a perfect remedy for any of these violations, I don’t believe”. SC111031_Queener

Huffington Post’s Mike Sacks has the “textualism” angle here.


Art Lien

Courtartist is me, Art Lien. I've been sketching the courts since 1976, and for most of that time the U.S. Supreme Court has been my regular beat. I've been working almost exclusively for NBC News since 1980. Courtroom sketching is a form of visual journalism or reportage drawing that is slowly dying out. Where once upon a time news organization each had their own artist covering a story, today a "pool" artist often sketches for all. It is a demanding and stressful discipline where the drawing is often done directly and under tight deadline.

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