CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Zeidman on Client Control of Lawyers' Decisions

Steven Zeidman (CUNY School of Law) has posted Whose Case is it Anyway? Florida v. Nixon and McCoy v. Louisiana: Pro-Defendant or Pro-Government? (American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section magazine (Vol. 37, Number 2 (2022))) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
There are countless decisions that are made during a criminal case. Who is responsible for those decisions, the client or the lawyer? The issue is less pressing when the accused hires an attorney. If client and lawyer disagree, the client is free, relatively, to hire another attorney. In the far more common situation where counsel is appointed by the government, the client is generally not entitled to replace one lawyer with another, so the allocation of decision-making authority takes on paramount importance. Consider it this way – an indigent defendant has a Sixth Amendment right to counsel. They can, instead, decline counsel, proceed pro se, and make all the decisions in their case. If, however, the accused accepts what they are constitutionally entitled to, does that mean they thereby relinquish the right to control key aspects of their defense? This article examines two Supreme Court cases, Florida v. Nixon and McCoy v. Louisiana, that address this fundamental question but ultimately serve only to create more confusion.

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