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New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - NYSACDL

New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - NYSACDL
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“You may be 38 years old as I happen to be, and one day some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause--and you refuse to do it because you are afraid; you refuse to do it because you want to live longer; you\'re afraid that you will lose your job, or you\'re afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity or you\'re afraid that somebody will stab you or shoot at you or bomb your house, and so you refuse to take the stand. Well you may go on and live until you are 90, but you\'re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90! And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. You died when you refused to stand up for right, you died when you refused to stand up for truth, you died when you refused to stand up for justice.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr. 

 

Effective Assistance Includes Plea Advice

Recognizing that the plea bargaining process is an integral part of the criminal justice system, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the Sixth Amendment guarantee to effective assistance of counsel extends to the plea process and, more specifically, that defendants can challenge a conviction and sentence based on the claim of ineffectiveness in plea negotiations and advice.  Missouri v. Frye, and Lafler v. Cooper.  NYSACDL President Richard Willstatter’s observations were recently quoted in the National Law Journal: “[i]t seems intuitively obvious, and as the Supreme Court recognized, that counseling people with respect to guilty pleas is one of the most important things lawyers do in representing people accused of crimes. . . . It is manifestly incompetent not to advise your client to take a plea if you strongly believe he should, just like it would be incompetent for a lawyer to advise a client to take a plea offer that the lawyer thought was a bad idea. We give advice. That is what we do.”  Justices Stress Need for Effective Advice on Whether to Accept a Plea, Tony Mauro, National Law Journal, March 22, 2012