Details on today’s opinions
The Court issued three opinions this morning.
Justice Kennedy (the author of four of the Court’s seven opinions this week) announced the first two opinions of the day. In the first opinion, Missouri v. Frye, the Court vacated the decision of the Court of Appeals of Missouri and remanded the case for further proceedings. By a vote of five to four, the Court held that the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel extends to the consideration of plea offers that lapse or are rejected and that that right applies to “all ‘critical’ stages of the criminal proceedings.” Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Thomas and Alito.
In the second opinion of the day regarding ineffective assistance of counsel at the plea bargain stage, Lafler v. Cooper the Court vacated the decision of the Sixth Circuit and remanded the case for further proceedings. Also by a vote of five to four, the Court held that where counsel’s ineffective advice led to an offer’s rejection, and where the prejudice alleged is having to stand trial, a defendant must show that but for the ineffective advice, there is a reasonable probability that the plea offer would have been presented to the court, that the court would have accepted its terms, and that the conviction or sentence, or both, under the offer’s terms would have been less severe than under the actual judgment and sentence imposed. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Thomas joined and in which Chief Justice Roberts joined as to all but Part IV. Justice Alito also filed a dissenting opinion.
Justice Scalia announced the third opinion of the day and final opinion of the week, Sackett v. EPA. The Court unanimously reversed the Ninth Circuit, holding that the petitioners may bring a civil action under the Administrative Procedure Act to challenge the issuance of the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrative compliance order under Section 309 of the Clean Water Act, requiring them to take certain actions with respect to their property. Justices Ginsburg and Alito each filed concurring opinions.