U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Louisiana Case on Authority of Lawyer to Concede Client’s Guilt in Death Penalty Case

On September 28, 2017, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in McCoy v. Louisiana, No. 16-8255 to decide whether it is ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment for defense counsel in a capital case to concede guilt over the defendant’s objections and protestations of innocence.

McCoy was convicted of first-degree murder in Bossier Parish for killing his estranged wife’s son, mother, and step-father. During opening statements in the guilt phase of McCoy’s trial in 2011, McCoy’s lawyer explicitly and repeatedly conceded that McCoy had murdered the three deceased: “I’m telling you, Mr. McCoy committed these crimes.” McCoy was convicted and sentenced to death.

The Supreme Court has ordered briefing and will consider the matter this term.

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