You are here:  Home  >  Articles by Richard Klein

A Criminal Quartet: The Supreme Court’s Resolution of Four Critical Issues in the Criminal Justice System

By   /  October 14, 2013  /  Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, Featured 

Scales & Gavel

The most recent Supreme Court term was one in which the Court tackled several of the most critical issues that arise in our criminal justice system. Perhaps most importantly, as the 50th Anniversary of the Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright approached, the Court addressed the problems presented by counsel who had not provided the effective assistance of counsel during the plea bargaining process. Whereas it was common knowledge that the vast majority of cases in the criminal courts of this country are resolved by plea bargaining, the Court had never required that court-appointed counsel provide competent advice when recommending rejection of a plea offer by the prosecution. It had not even been constitutionally required that counsel communicate to his client the existence of an offer that entailed a reduced sentence were the defendant to plead guilty. The Court also addressed the matter of what action by counsel would constitute abandonment of the client in the post-conviction phase of a case where the client had received the death penalty. And, finally, the Court considered what had remained an unresolved issue: was it constitutional to impose a sentence of life without parole for a juvenile who had been convicted of murder.

Read More →

New Paths for the Court: Protections Afforded Juveniles under Miranda; Effective Assistance of Counsel; and Habeas Corpus Decisions of the Supreme Court’s 2010/2011 Term

By   /  June 1, 2012  /  Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure 

Books with Gavel

During the 2010/2011 Term, the Supreme Court continued to engage in two of the trends that have been established over the past couple of decades: first, that the Court treats juveniles differently than adults, and, second, that the Court seeks to limit federal review of state convictions, especially in cases involving claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and habeas corpus. In the cases of this Term, the Court reemphasized its previous holdings and sought to expound upon them to provide clearer guidance to the federal judiciary to utilize in its review of state court decisions relating to the validity of a criminal conviction.

Read More →

Supreme Court Criminal Law Jurisprudence: Fair Trials, Cruel Punishment, and Ethical Lawyering—October 2009 Term

By   /  June 1, 2011  /  6th Amendment, 8th Amendment, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure 

Gavel with Legal Texts

The last Term of the Supreme Court included important issues regarding the constitutional rights of criminal defendants. In Skilling v. United States, the Court considered a claim by a criminal defendant that the venue of his trial should have been changed because of the extensive publicity surrounding the case. The Court in Padilla v. Kentucky evaluated a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel based on the defense attorney’s affirmative misadvice regarding deportation. In Graham v. Florida, the Court considered the issue of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment as applied to a juvenile sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. United States v. Comstock presented the Court with an opportunity to expound on the breadth of the Necessary and Proper Clause regarding a Congressional statute allowing the federal government to civilly commit “sexually dangerous” convicts after their sentences ended. Finally, Holland v. Florida allowed the Court to clarify a circuit split regarding equitable tolling under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

Read More →