"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Appealing Ethics

So you're a defendant who's been convicted and sentenced, and your case is on appeal. You change your mind about appealing, and demand that your attorneys withdraw the appeal.

The ethical rules are clear: "the client, after consultation with the lawyer, holds the ultimate decision making authority over lawful objectives of the representation."

What if you think your client is not competent to make such a decision? Again, you would follow the rules:
Appellate counsel should consider the client’s competence to make critical appellate decisions whenever counsel has a good faith doubt as to the client's competence to proceed. Counsel may move for an evaluation over the client's objection, and if necessary, counsel may make known to the court those facts that raise the good faith doubt of competence to proceed on appeal.
Why then, did the Beltway Sniper, John Allen Mohammed, have to write to the Virginia Attorney General's Office to inform them that despite his pleas to them, his appellate counsel have not followed his direction to withdraw his appeal? Any appeals filed, he asserts, have been done "against my will." Yet appeals have been filed, and his attorneys have not sought an appellate-level competency evaluation, which could supply the only possible grounds for them to ignore their client's wishes.

It couldn't be that his lawyers care more about their capital punishment activism than they do about their client's wishes, could it?

1 comment:

S said...

I doubt that it's really as simple as his letter makes it seem. All defense attorneys have had clients that have gone back and forth about how they want to proceed. Yes, it's the client's decision whether to abandon an appeal, but once abandonned, you can't get it back, so you'd want to be completely sure the client knows what he wants. When a client changes his mind a lot, it's difficult for the defense attorney to dismiss the appeal because you have a pretty good idea that the next day, the client will change his mind again.

Also, don't forget this guy's history of manipulations. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is just another machination by him.

Bottom line at this point is I'm not going to take the DC Sniper's word for it that he has consistently and repeatedly asked his attorneys to drop his appeal. He's not really the most credible witness.