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Nix v. Whiteside

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nix v. Whiteside
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued November 5, 1985
Decided February 26, 1986
Full case nameCrispus Nix, Warden, Petitioner v. Emanuel Charles Whiteside
Citations475 U.S. 157 (more)
106 S.Ct. 988; 89 L. Ed. 2d 123; 1986 U.S. LEXIS 8
Holding
The Sixth Amendment right of a criminal defendant to assistance of counsel is not violated when an attorney refuses to cooperate with the defendant in presenting perjured testimony at his trial.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall · Harry Blackmun
Lewis F. Powell Jr. · William Rehnquist
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Case opinions
MajorityBurger, joined by White, Powell, Rehnquist, O'Connor
ConcurrenceBrennan
ConcurrenceBlackmun, joined by Brennan, Marshall, Stevens
ConcurrenceStevens
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. VI

Nix v. Whiteside, 475 U.S. 157 (1986), was a United States Supreme Court decision that dealt with the effective assistance of counsel during a criminal trial.

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Transcription

Contents

Background

Before his trial for murder, the defendant, Whiteside, discussed his planned testimony with his attorney, and said that he had seen "something metallic in [the victim's] hand", in contradiction to earlier statements that he had not seen a gun in the victim's hand. Whiteside's attorney, Robinson, had warned that he (Robinson) would have an ethical obligation to report perjured testimony to the court. Whiteside, on the stand, admitted that while he believed the victim had a gun, he did not actually see a gun in the victim's hand. Whiteside was convicted, and subsequently applied for a federal writ of habeas corpus, on the grounds that his conviction was tainted under the Sixth Amendment in that his attorney's threat to disclose the perjury had deprived Whiteside of effective assistance of counsel.

Supreme Court decision

The Court ruled unanimously that Whiteside had not been deprived of his Sixth Amendment rights. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Burger, stated that an attorney's duty to his client's cause is "limited to legitimate, lawful conduct compatible with the very nature of a trial as a search for truth", and that "the right to counsel includes no right to have a lawyer who will cooperate with planned perjury".

Concurrences by Justices Blackmun, Brennan and Stevens stated that Whiteside had failed to show that the attorney's actions had caused prejudice to the defendant's trial required to sustain a claim of "ineffective representation", as required by the case of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984).

In a separate concurrence, Justice Brennan said that the Court is deciding only the narrow issue "conduct acceptable under the Sixth Amendment" (quoting the lower court). "Unfortunately, the Court seems unable to resist the temptation of sharing with the legal community its vision of ethical conduct." But it is up to "the States... how [lawyers] behave in their courts, unless and until federal rights are violated."

See also

Further reading

  • Appel, Brent R. (1988). "The Limited Impact of Nix v. Whiteside on Attorney-Client Relations". University of Pennsylvania Law Review. 136 (6): 1913–1938. doi:10.2307/3312150. JSTOR 3312150.

External links

This page was last edited on 24 September 2019, at 11:27
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