Supreme Court Adopts Strickland Prejudice Standard for Rejected Plea Bargains

By Derek Gilna

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, has extended Strickland guarantees of effective legal representation to defendants entering into plea bargains. According to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who delivered the majority opinion of the Court, “The reality is that plea bargains have become so central to the administration of the criminal justice system that defense counsel have responsibilities … that must be met to render the adequate assistance of counsel that the Sixth Amendment requires.”

According to Justice Kennedy, “criminal justice today is for the most part of pleas, not a system of trials…. Ninety-seven percent of federal convictions and ninety-four percent of state convictions are the result of guilty pleas.” [See: PLN, Jan. 2013, p.20]. The two cases considered by the Supreme Court, Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper, both involved claims in which all parties agreed that defense counsel had failed to properly represent their clients.

In the case of Galin Frye, his attorney never advised him of a plea offer by Missouri prosecutors that would have resulted in ten days in jail for driving with a revoked license. Instead, he later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison. The case of Anthony Cooper involved a charge of assault with intent to murder. Cooper was offered a deal of 51 to 85 months in prison in return for a guilty plea, but turned it down when his counsel allegedly told him he could not be found guilty of the intent to murder charge because he had shot his victim below the waist. At trial, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 to 30 years.

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The Quest For An Education

Jon Antonucci

After being incarcerated for over 2 years now, I have come to the undeniable conclusion that obtaining an education while in prison is hard! Despite the general public’s perception that prisoners are being rehabilitated while in the system, in reality, rehabilitation through higher learning is hard to come by. Granted, many prisons require their inmates to pass a “mandatory literacy” examination, and some even require the completion of a GED. But for the most part, the educational train stops there and all inmates must get off. Those who desire to improve themselves through higher learning find that they must fight an uphill battle to receive any sort of accredited education.  Image courtesy

For those who are willing to fight that uphill battle, here are a couple of tips to help you be effective in your quest for education.

1) Be aware of non-accredited schools. There are many “career colleges” and “correspondence learning schools” that are more than happy to take your money; and usually, for very little work, will award you an Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or even Ph.D. (depending upon how much you pay them). But, their diplomas aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Sadly, many “Bible colleges” are a part of this scam. Before investing your time or money into a school, check their accreditation. If they can’t produce legitimate accreditations, such as regional accreditation, then you may want to reconsider enrollment.

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