Court: Defendants Have Right to Counsel in Plea Bargains

For the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that defendants have a constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel in plea bargains. Its 5-4 decision today also declared that when a lawyer acts unethically or gives clearly wrong advice, the defendant may be entitled to a second chance at accepting a plea offer. Writing on behalf of the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that since 99 percent of all convictions are the result of plea bargains, not trials, the right to adequate assistance of counsel guaranteed in the Constitution cannot exclude the central role plea bargaining plays. NPR has this analysis