Ineffective assistance of counsel – Lafler and Frye
Today in the Community we are discussing Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye, a pair of cases raising issues about plea offers and the ineffective assistance of counsel in which the Court heard oral argument yesterday. In both cases, the respondents received deficient advice from their trial counsel. In Lafler, the attorney mistakenly told the defendant that the state could not establish a necessary element of its case – intent to murder – because he had shot the victim below her waist, the state could not establish a necessary element of its case (intent to murder); based on that advice, the defendant rejected a guilty plea, was ultimately convicted at trial, and was eventually sentenced to a much longer prison term. In Frye, the defendant’s counsel simply failed to inform him that a plea bargain had been offered at all, allegedly leading him to enter a guilty plea on terms far less favorable than he would have received had he agreed to the state’s offer. In each case, the Court is now considering whether the defendant-respondents can seek relief on the ground that their attorneys were constitutionally ineffective and, if so, what remedies are available to them.
We want to hear your thoughts on the two cases below.