Sunday, March 19, 2006

AD4: What not to say at sentencing (attorney edition)

People v Lawrence, __ AD3d __ [available here]

This is not what you want your attorney to say on your behalf at sentencing:

Yes. [Defendant], pursuant to a deal we made, was supposed to get a determinant [sic] sentence of four years but [he] failed to contact me, failed to appear in court and has failed to do any other of the responsibilities that you outlined for him back when we were in court back in March. And I have explained that to him several times. I could not reach [defendant]. And in my experience with [defendant], he has showed up in my office intoxicated, threatening me and my secretary. That is all I have, your Honor.

(People v Lawrence, __ AD3d at __.)

The Fourth Department vacated the sentence based on ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing, noting that defense counsel "'essentially[] became a witness against [defendant] and took a position adverse to him,' thereby denying him effective assistance of counsel." (Id. at __.) With defense attorneys like this, who needs prosecutors?