Lee v. U.S.

Posted: February 3, 2017 by beguide in case summaries, Criminal Procedure, Fantasy Supreme Court League, Lawyers, Uncategorized, White Skull


WHAT HAPPENED:  Defendant was a foreign resident in the United States when he was arrested for possession of drugs.  Defendant’s attorney informed Defendant that if he pled guilty, he would not be deported.  Defendant pled guilty and was immediately deported.  Defendant argues his attorney’s mistake should grant him a new trial.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  Ineffective Assistance of Counsel is a claim rooted in the 5th and 6th Amendments which grants a Defendant a new trial when it is proven that the attorney who represented the defendant did an objectively bad job, and that the attorney’s job affected the outcome.  In this case, it is fairly clear a mistake occurred; however, there was such overwhelming evidence against the Defendant that the lower court found that the attorney’s error did not make a difference.  The Court here must decide whether or not the gravity of the error is more important than the effect it had on the outcome of the case.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS –  While the Court is often hesitant to grant IAC claims (as they require that the Court start the criminal trial from the beginning), the Court is very attentive when a person pleads guilty, waiving all rights to a fair trial, on mistaken grounds.  It is for those reasons that this case may get special attention because of the timing of the mistake and implications of a guilty plea.  It is hard to say whether or not this case will generally expand the rights of IAC claims during trial; however, it may give greater protection to defendants who plead guilty and find that anytime the attorney’s mistake induces a Defendant to plead guilty, the defendant automatically gets a new trial without consideration of how the case could have gone.

ROOT FOR LEE IF:  you read this post and thought “that sucks”.

ROOT FOR U.S. IF:  you read this post and thought “who cares”.


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