Sixth Amendment

22 ABA Journal Sixth Amendment articles.

Federal judge rules students have no right to civics education while warning of peril to democracy

A Rhode Island federal judge has ruled students in the state have no constitutional right to a civics education, even as he warned of a “deep flaw” in education priorities. Judge William Smith said they seem to recognize “American democracy is in peril.”

Former inmate’s suit says appointed lawyer was ineffective and unlicensed in this state
A former Washington inmate claims in a lawsuit that he pleaded guilty to two felony charges after getting bad advice from an appointed lawyer who wasn’t licensed in the state.
Defense lawyer who didn’t probe death-row client’s bad childhood was deficient, SCOTUS says
A defense lawyer who failed to investigate his capital client’s tumultuous childhood provided ineffective assistance of counsel, the U.S. Supreme Court held Monday.
Resuming criminal jury trials would be ‘reckless and irresponsible,’ NACDL says regarding COVID-19
Resuming criminal jury trials would be “reckless and irresponsible” given the risk of transmission of the new coronavirus and the burdens on defendants’ constitutional rights, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said in a report released Thursday.
In Gorsuch opinion, Supreme Court rules unanimous verdict is needed to convict
A unanimous verdict is needed to convict a defendant of a serious criminal offense, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.
ABA brief criticizes trend in which courts fail to consider prevailing norms in ineffective assistance cases
The ABA has filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reaffirm that courts must look to “prevailing professional norms” when assessing lawyers’ performance in ineffective assistance cases.
Murder conviction tossed after prosecutor conducts background check on only black juror
A New Jersey appeals court has overturned a murder conviction after the prosecutor conducted a criminal background check on the only black person among the potential jurors, resulting in an arrest.
Federal judge refuses to OK consent decree limiting caseloads for Missouri public defenders
A federal judge in Missouri has refused to approve a consent decree that would have limited state public defenders to no more than 173.3 hours worth of cases each month, a standard that is based on a 40-hour workweek.
Overturning 2016 precedent, Florida top court says jury unanimity not needed for death penalty
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a 2016 decision and ruled that judges may impose the death penalty even when jurors do not unanimously recommend it.
Justices should consider when wrongfully convicted can seek damages, ABA says
The ABA is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case that “presents one of the increasing number of instances in which a prosecutor’s office has conditioned the release of an unlawfully convicted defendant on his agreement to a new plea—rather than vacating the prior conviction before bringing any new charges.”
Pro se litigants in pop culture show why representing yourself can be a dangerous decision

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has a weekly mailing list that sends out the court’s published and unpublished cases. They arrive in quick succession every Thursday morning. It’s a…

Prosecutors tossed from drug case after witness is used to record defense lawyer
A New Jersey appeals court has tossed prosecutors from a drug case because detectives wired a witness and sent him to record the criminal defense lawyer who had requested a pretrial interview.
Settlement provides for right to counsel in 2 municipal courts; ACLU hopes other cities take note
A federal judge in Charleston, South Carolina, has approved a $250,000 settlement that also ensures the right to a lawyer for some municipal court defendants.
SCOTUS opens new term with criminal law cases addressing insanity defense and unanimous juries

The U.S. Supreme Court has several blockbuster cases in its new term—on gay and transgender rights, federal immigration enforcement and gun regulation. But before it gets to any of those, the court on the first day of the term will take up two criminal law cases raising significant questions, even though only a handful of states are affected by each.

Chemerinsky: Weighty matters load the Supreme Court’s next term
The U.S. Supreme Court justices return from their summer recess Monday to a calendar filled with potential blockbuster cases. Typically, about half the docket is set before the justices’ recess at the end of June, with the remaining cases taken between the beginning of October and the middle of January. But just based on what already is on the docket, this term could be filled with cases of great significance.

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