Does freezing defendant's untainted assets violate right to counsel of choice? SCOTUS to decide
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether a pretrial freeze of a criminal defendant’s assets that are untainted by crime violates a constitutional right to hire counsel of choice.
The court agreed to consider the issue in the case of Sila Luis, who is charged with Medicare fraud in Florida federal court. The government had obtained an injunction freezing up to $45 million of Luis’ assets to ensure sufficient funds are available to cover any restitution or judgment.
Luis claimed a court order restraining use of untainted assets would violate the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. According to the cert petition (PDF), retaining counsel of choice would be “no small task” given the volume of discovery—750 banker boxes of documents—in the case.
The government claimed (PDF) the defendant had dissipated the tainted assets by spending them on luxury items and travel, and substitute assets could be frozen.
SCOTUSblog posts the documents in Luis v. United States here.