ARTICLE: Turning the Sixth Amendment Upon Itself: The Supreme Court in Lafler v. Cooper Diminished the Right to Jury Trial with the Right to Counsel Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2012 Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal
Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal

ARTICLE: Turning the Sixth Amendment Upon Itself: The Supreme Court in Lafler v. Cooper Diminished the Right to Jury Trial with the Right to Counsel

Fall / Winter, 2012

Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal

12 Conn. Pub. Int. L.J. 101

Author

George Dery and Anneli Soo*

Excerpt



I. Introduction



Among the several rights protected by the Sixth Amendment are two of the most essential: the right to jury trial and the right to the assistance of counsel. 1 According to the recent Supreme Court decision, Lafler v. Cooper, these two fundamental rights can potentially conflict during plea bargaining. 2 In Lafler, a defendant missed the chance to accept a favorable plea offer due to his attorney's ineffective assistance. The case proceeded to jury trial, which resulted in his receiving a harsher sentence than that which he would have received from the plea presented in the original offer. 3 The Lafler Court characterized the prejudice suffered by the defendant to be "[h]aving to stand trial" rather than "choosing to waive it." 4 Denying that a fair trial could cure counsel's failures during plea bargaining, 5 Lafler held that the jury trial and the subsequent sentence, which was "3 & half; times greater" than that offered in the original plea bargain, amounted to prejudice of the defendant's Sixth Amendment rights. 6



Lafler's dim view of the consequences of jury trial is not the norm. The jury trial has been deemed "the pinnacle of constitutional 'process,'" 7

"fundamental to the American scheme of justice," 8 and a "great bulwark . . . of civil and political liberties." 9 The Court has traced the jury trial's origins to Blackstone, who described the right as requiring that "the truth of every accusation [should be] confirmed ...
 
 
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