US Supreme Court hears cases on ineffective defense counsel in plea bargains
- Year: 2011
- Length: 6:40 minutes (6.1 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
Today, the Supreme Court heard two cases related to plea bargains and the right to adequate counsel. In the US, more than 90 percent of criminal cases are settled through plea bargains, with defendants often relying on the expert advice of their lawyer. In both cases heard by the Court today, defense attorneys either failed to provide adequate information on plea options or gave poor or misleading counsel. In one case, a Missouri man was sentenced to three years in prison for driving without a license even though prosecutors had agreed to just three months of incarceration. The cases go to the heart of the right to counsel under the US constitution - and the criminal system’s disproportionate effect on the poor and people of color who depend heavily on public defenders. For more we’re joined now by Thomas Giovanni. He is Counsel with the Justice Program, and Director of the Community-Oriented Defender Network, both at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s Law School.