McCoy v. Louisiana: The Decision [SCOTUSbrief]
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McCoy v. Louisiana: The Decision [SCOTUSbrief]


The core issue in McCoy versus Louisiana is
the question of whether it violates a person’s Sixth Amendment Right to counsel, to admit
a client’s guilt at trial. Robert McCoy was charged with the triple homicide
of family members of his estranged wife. And he, from the moment he was arrested, he
insisted that he was innocent, adamantly. Mr. McCoy did plead not guilty. Robert McCoy was originally assigned a public
defender, um, and ultimately that uh, relationship with the public defender deteriorated, and
Mr. McCoy hoped to represent himself. Ultimately, his parents retained a private
attorney, Larry English, who was hired and paid by his family to represent him at trial. At trial, it was Mr. McCoy’s defense attorney’s
strategy to try to convince the jury that Mr. McCoy was actually not competent despite
the fact that uh, the evaluation had found otherwise. Mr. McCoy asked his attorney on multiple occasions
to tell the jury that he was innocent. But, Mr. uh, English, his attorney, did not
do so. His hope was that Mr. McCoy would ultimately
be sentenced to life in jail instead of the death penalty. But unfortunately Mr. English’s uh, strategy
backfired and Mr. McCoy was sentenced to death. This case made it to the Supreme Court. Um, and the Supreme Court ultimately decided
to take the case because there was disagreement between state courts of last resort as to
whether it was a violation of client’s Sixth Amendment Right to counsel to concede the
client’s guilt over the client’s objection. At oral argument, Mr. McCoy’s new attorney,
Seth Waxman, argued that English’s behavior during trial was essentially a structural
error, meaning that the trial was so fundamentally flawed on a foundational level, that the entire
conviction had to be thrown out, and that Mr. McCoy deserved a new trial. He argued that Larry English’s decision to
concede his guilt at trial was not only ineffective assistance of counsel, it was essentially
the deprivation of the Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of counsel. So the client should have the opportunity
to ask the attorney for their advice, but not have to follow it. Louisiana was arguing for a more narrow holding,
saying that this was essentially ineffective assistance of counsel, but that Mr. McCoy
had not been deprived of his Sixth Amendment Right to counsel. In a six to three decision, written by Justice
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court found in favor of Mr. McCoy, finding that it was,
in fact, a violation of his Sixth Amendment Right to counsel for Mr. English to tell the
jury that Mr. McCoy was guilty over Mr. McCoy’s adamant ob-objection. Justice Sotomayor’s said, “People have the
right to walk themselves into jail. Everyone has the right to represent themselves
at a criminal trial, and if they consider the attorney that they have to be a burden,
then they don’t have to accept them, and then they have the opportunity to represent themselves.” Three dissenting Justices -Alito, Thomas, and
Gorsuch- find that the majority made a mistake in their holding. Justice Alito appears to be advocating somewhat
for Larry English saying that it was not that he conceded the client’s guilt, it was that
he was really arguing for a lesser conviction on behalf of Mr. McCoy. Justice Alito also writes that he believes
the majority opinion is overly broad, in that he finds that this is a rare case that is
unlikely to be replicated.

7 Comments

  • Adaept Zulander

    Wow. I really disagree with the Conservatives on the Court in this instance. WTF were they thinking? If a man wants to plead innocent, then he has a right to plead innocent. Rare case or not, you don't just let someone go to the gallows because you want to protect attorneys. The damn defense attorney sounds like a bigot and should be disbarred.

  • Fushicho Kurayami

    A Person Has The Right To COUNSEL.
    The Counsels Job Is To LISTEN TO THEIR CLIENTS PLEA And Go Forward With The Case Based On Their Clients Testimony.
    Cousel Should Thus Be Representing THE CLIENT And THEIR PLEA As They Move Forward In The Case.
    Cousel Should NOT Be Representing What THEY THINK The Client Is Or What THEY Think Is Best If It Does Not Represent THE CLIENTS PLEA.
    PERIOD.
    Counsel DOES NOT Have The RIGHT
    To Tell The Client What They ARE Or ARE NOT

    I dont even see how this ever Had to be a case. But then again if the guy was actually Afroscendent as the video depicts Im not shocked. Afroscendent people have been being blamed and executed for crimes they didnt commit for over 400 years in America. Whats one more statistic to add to the number. Westernized American Laws were built on the idea that "BLACKS" are all just criminals and they All are Evil. So Im not shocked an Afroscendent Man Pleading his Innocence was ignore. I mean look at all the times it has come out that a Afroscendent Man who was accused of something ended up being released years and years later after DNA evidence from way back when PROVES He was innocent as hed said he was. Its pathetic that Afroscendent People keep tolerating this kind of bullshit treatment rather than just uniting as a great force to stand against such blatant racist judgments and abuse of judicial power.

  • DoopyThe Spoopy

    How is this even up for debate? So, the argument is that your attorney should be able to rake you over the coals and make you plead guilty if he think's it's in your "best interests", even if you wish otherwise? Yeah, the court should have ruled 9-0 in favor of McCoy

  • Eddie Brahhh

    Strategic decisions made by clients? Perhaps we should let patients decide how vertebrates should be removed. I concede that admissions of guilt probably should be controlled by the client, but where is the line?

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