Thursday, April 1, 2010
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals reversed a conviction for assaulting a police officer and remanded the case for a new trial. The trial had recessed for the weekend with the defendant on the witness stand, having completed his direct examination. The court, at the government's urging, instructed the defendant not to speak to anyone over the weekend. Defense counsel said nothing.
The court held that the instruction amounted to an unconstitutional interference with the defendant's right to counsel. The failure of defense counsel to object did not affect the outcome as the trial court committed plain error. (Mike Frisch)