August 29, 2008
An Empty Threat?
The Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion yesterday that upheld a criminal conviction but remanded the case to a new judge for sentencing. The defendant was charged with a number of violent offenses. His lawyer moved to withdraw prior to trial based on alleged death threats by his client to the lawyer and his family if convicted. The client denied that he had made the threats. The judge denied the motion, telling counsel not to worry because, if the client was convicted, he would never get out to jail to carry out the threatened conduct. The court found insufficient evidence that the situation had undermined the jury's verdict but remanded because the judge's remarks indicated a predisposition in sentencing the defendant. (Mike Frisch)
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This is wrong. He had ineffective assistance of counsel if the judge denied the motion and insisted on the atty going forward with only the assurance that he would be safe if the client lost. I don't think he has to show actual effect on the representation since he had objected, unlike in Cuyler v. Sullivan. This is more like Holliway v. Arkansas, with automatic reversal. What am I missing here; why isn't this an obvious case for reversal? I bet he wins on habeas.
"Counselor. Come out come out wherever you are."
Posted by: Alan Childress | Aug 29, 2008 8:11:52 PM