Defense Counsel Can’t Present an Insanity Defense without the Defendant’s Consent

The court of appeals recently addressed an issue that has divided courts elsewhere: whether defense counsel may present an insanity defense without the defendant’s consent. The court ruled that defense counsel may not do so, stating that “because the decision of whether to plead not guilty by reason of insanity is part of the decision of what plea to enter, the right to make that decision is a substantial right belonging to the defendant.”

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Proposed Ethics Opinion: Defense Lawyers May Assist the State in Responding to Claims of Ineffective Assistance

Criminal defendants, especially those sentenced to long prison terms, sometimes try to attack their convictions and sentences by claiming that their trial lawyers provided ineffective assistance of counsel. The state sometimes seeks trial lawyers’ help in answering these claims, and trial attorneys may want to help in order to avoid findings of ineffectiveness. At the … Read more

Too Much Confidentiality?

For some time, I’ve been meaning to do a post about attorney-client confidentiality in extreme circumstances. For example, in this Chicago case, defendant X, who was charged with one murder, admitted to his lawyers that he had also committed another murder, one with which defendant Y had been charged. There was other evidence in the … Read more

Jury Selection and Attorneys as Agents of Their Clients

Who has the final say about whether to strike a prospective juror – the defendant or his lawyer? That’s the question addressed by the court of appeals today in State v. Freeman. The defendant in Freeman was charged with murder. During jury selection, the defendant and his attorney disagreed about whether to use a peremptory … Read more