The Supreme Court heard arguments today in McCoy v. Louisiana, which presents the question of whether it is unconstitutional for defense counsel to tell the jury that a client is guilty when the client insists he is innocent. It also raises interesting questions about the ethical obligations under ABA Model Rule 1.2 that “a lawyer shall abide by a client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation” and ABA Model Rule 3.3, Candor Toward the Tribunal.
As Justice Sotomayor observed in questioning McCoy’s attorney, “this sounds like my ethics class in law school, and this very hypothetical of what do you do with a lying client?” Full oral argument transcript is here.
Adam Liptak noted in the NY Times that the justices seemed likely to side with McCoy: “Several justices said a decision as fundamental as admitting guilt in a capital case belonged to the client rather than the lawyer.” Full article here.
Cross-posted at the Legal Ethics Forum
Bruce Green and Ellen Yaroshefsky recently posted a new article on SSRN, Prosecutorial Accountability 2.0. They identify several rhetorical and regulatory shifts that they claim are leading to an era of new prosecutorial accountability. In their carefully crafted article, they argue that information technology is the main driver behind this shift to hold prosecutors accountable for their actions. They claim that the pendulum long fixed on courts and the media presuming that prosecutors could do no wrong has swung to a more skeptical position. Let’s hope they are right. Anyone interested in the criminal justice system should read this article.
On Monday, October 19, 2015, the months-long case against three former executives of Dewey & Leboeuf resulted in a mistrial after a Manhattan jury deadlocked after 21 days of deliberation. Recent update on the case is here. Prior blogposts can be found here.
Yesterday, on September 16, 2015, in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the jury began deliberating whether the three former executives of the now defunct law firm of Dewey & Leboeuf conspired to manipulate the finances in an effort to defraud investors and bank lenders. In a daring move, defense lawyers chose not to call any witnesses and rested their case. For more detailed information about the trial, it is reported that one legal newswire, Law360, has been live blogging the event. Warning: the testimony “has often been dull and focused on arcane accounting treatments.” Latest news of the trial can be found here. Prior posts can be found here and here.
It is a rare event when the top managers of a major, venerable U.S. law firm are being criminally prosecuted for fraud. So those of you who plan on teaching Chapter 6, Part II (Duties to Third Parties and to the Law) may want to take advantage of the ongoing trial involving top executives of the law firm of Dewey & Leboeuf, which collapsed in bankruptcy in May 2012. The trial is expected to last (by some accounts) until Labor Day.
Opening statements began on May 26, 2015 in the New York Supreme Court before Justice Robert M. Stolz. The defendants, former chairman Steven Davis, executive director Stephen DiCarmine, and chief financial officer Joel Sanders were charged with concealing Dewey & LeBoeuf’s failing financial situation from lenders and creditors, including insurers that invested in a debt offering to raise about $150 mililion.
Natasha Lydon from Above the Law is reporting on the trial. Her recent post about the opening statements can be found here.
For background on the case, The New York Times has a fairly informative article here.