BREAKING – The United States Supreme Court reversed the Louisiana Supreme Court decision in McCoy v. Louisiana, with a 6-3 vote. The decision held that when a person’s liberty- and in capital cases, life- is at stake, it is the person’s “prerogative, not counsel’s, to decide on the objective of his defense: to admit guilt in the hope of gaining mercy at the sentencing stage, or to maintain his innocence, leaving it to the State to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The Baton Rouge Advocate writes “now the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed those decisions, voting 6–3 in McCoy’s favor and ruling that the Sixth Amendment grants defendants “assistance of counsel” — a right that does not require them to “surrender control entirely to counsel.”
In the court’s majority opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg writes that “it is the defendant’s prerogative, not counsel’s, to decide on the objective of his defense: to admit guilt in the hope of gaining mercy at the sentencing stage, or to maintain innocence.”
The Promise of Justice Initiative filed an Amicus Brief along with The Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers pointing out the pervasive problem in Louisiana, of counsel conceding guilt over their client’s objection. In the Advocate article, PJI’s Ben Cohen is quoted saying that the state’s narrow definition of competency allows some defendants to fall through the cracks and points to judges who “ignore or override complex questions about competency and mental illness.”
PJI congratulates the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, including Atty. Richard Bourke on the incredible advocacy provided on behalf of Mr. McCoy in this tremendous victory for justice and equality.