Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Supreme Court Reverses Ruling On Phoning It In

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Supreme Court reversed a 7th Circuit ruling that a defense attorney shirked his duties to a man charged with murder by literally phoning it in. Joseph Van Patten claimed his lawyer violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel by participating in a critical court proceeding via speaker phone.

The federal appeals court ruled that Van Patten's attorney should have been physically present when he entered a no-contest plea to a reduced charge of first-degree reckless homicide.

The Supreme Court reversed the decision without ruling on the merits of Van Patten's ineffective counsel claim.

"Even if we agree with Van Patten that a lawyer physically present will tend to perform better than one on the phone, it does not necessarily follow that mere phone contact amounted to total absence," the opinion states. See ruling.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.