Supreme Court Looks At Plea Bargain Advice: How Much Bad Lawyering Is Allowed?


When Anthony Cooper shot a fleeing woman in the thigh and buttocks back in 2003, his lawyer advised him to reject the prosecution’s deal because those below-the-waist wounds would shield him from any suggestion he tried to kill her. The advice was absurd.

The question before the Supreme Court on Monday morning was whether it was absurd enough to violate Cooper’s Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel.

The facts of Lafler v. Cooper are straightforward enough: Michigan prosecutors offered Cooper a lower sentence in exchange for his pleading guilty to assault with intent to murder. His lawyer told him to reject the deal, and he did. At trial, Cooper was convicted and received a stiffer sentence than the one initially offered by prosecutors.

Michigan’s solicitor general, John Bursch, spent nearly 20 minutes Monday arguing that such an outcome did not violate the Constitution under the Court’s precedents. To prove a Sixth Amendment violation, Bursch maintained, “you have to demonstrate unreliability of the adjudicatory process,” and a botched plea bargain alone does not impact a trial’s fairness.




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12 comments on “Supreme Court Looks At Plea Bargain Advice: How Much Bad Lawyering Is Allowed?
  1. mitch says:

    hay what ever happened to the 700,000 clarence thomas was accused of not claiming and why was this just pushed under the rug. that man should be removed from the bench

  2. BTW says:

    Bad Lawyering? Didn't know there was any such thing as Good Lawyering.

    • Any American says:

      Sounds like the Herman Cain campaign could give an equal and opposite example of bad lawyering. "Just settle with an early retirement package it's cheaper than going to court to fight it?" More than half of lawyering these days has little to do with guilt or innocense, and even less to do with right and wrong. The founders would be disgusted with our whole legal system. If it'd been like this in his day, Abraham Lincoln would have been ashamed to hang his shingle out!

      • You are absolutely correct! Today's judicial system is about the numbers. Not whether or not a person is guilty or innocent. After 25 years in LE in South Florida, Colorado and Conneticut I have seen the rapid transformation of how the system is all about how fast a prosecutor can clear a case or the Defense Attorney can settle a plea bargain for his fee and move on to the next case. Of course the Government entities are all about the numbers and how much they save the costs associated with each offense. Additionally, there is also the poliical aspects of certain celebrity cases. The American public needs to be aware of how seriously our judicial system has deteriorated. If in doubt take a day or two out of your schedule and visit a courtroom for the day. It won't take long to see these facts for yourselves. Have a great day and may God Bless.
        Major Daniel P. Corcoran

  3. Dusty1 says:

    The example presented above is a good example of doing your homework before you hire a lawyer. The OJ case is another good example of doing your homework when you need a good lawyer.

  4. adrianvance says:

    I have done a lot of litigation and cannot imagine a court where reporting this to the judge would result in a new lawyer being appointed and ignore any bills coming from that guy. No court would uphold him.

    The Two Minute Conservative at http://adrianvance.blogspot.com has political analysis,science and humor. Now in the top 3% on Kindle.

  5. Dan Clamage says:

    The shooter should’ve been apprised of the proper application of Deadly Force, which can only be applied when someone’s life or body is in imminent danger. When you apply deadly force, the very fact of its life-threatening ability implies he intended to kill her. Even police officers know better than trying to shoot to wound versus kill.

  6. Cooper got his Constitutional right to a trial by his peers. And that was not Constitutional enough for this now convicted criminal? Believing he still has rights after violating the rights of this woman, he wants to game the system. Lucky for Cooper we don't just take him out to a firing squad to finish the same life sentance he intended to give his victim.

  7. JBinGB says:

    These turkey democRATs Really do hate justus Tomas, don,t they?

  8. True Patriot says:

    P. Navarrette – Your Response/article is not appropiate to this discussion. This discussion is dealing with the 6th ammendment!

  9. Wolf-Talker says:

    How much bad lawyering is allowed? As much as any lawyer can getg away with before being caught of course? Isn't that the way it's supposed to be!