Justices Skeptical of Extending Legal Help Guarantee in Plea Bargains

Anthony Cooper got bad legal advice when considering a plea deal for shooting an acquaintance four times, says the Washington Post. His lawyer said the prosecution would not be able to prove intent to murder, so he turned down an offer of four to seven years in prison. He went to trial, was convicted and is now serving 15 to 30 years. Cooper’s new lawyers convinced a court that the legal advice violated his right to effective counsel.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court on Monday seemed far more skeptical that Cooper should get another shot at the plea bargain after he got a fair trial and was sentenced to a far longer term in prison. The point of the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of lawyers is to ensure fair proceedings, some justices said, not to get the defendant the best deal. Justice Anthony Kennedy asked Michigan public defender Valerie Newman, “You are saying it was unfair to have a fair trial?” Her response: “I'm saying it's unfair to go to trial when your attorney tells you, you can't be convicted.”

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