Month in Review: January 2008
February 2008

Wright v. Van Patten, No. 07-212 (U.S., Jan. 7, 2008).
Sixth Amendment – Assistance of Counsel

In a per curiam decision issued without oral argument, the Supreme Court reviewed a criminal defendant’s claim that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel after his attorney appeared at his sentencing by telephone.

Joseph Van Patten was charged with first-degree intentional homicide following a fatal shooting. Under an agreement reached between Van Patten’s counsel and the prosecutor, Van Patten was to enter a plea of no contest to a charge of first degree reckless homicide, with a penalty enhancement for committing the offense while using a dangerous weapon. At the plea hearing, Van Patten’s counsel was not physically present in the courtroom, but was connected to the courtroom by a speaker phone. Following Van Patten’s plea, the state trial court imposed the maximum term of 25 years in prison.

View entire article in PDF format here.