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November 22, 2008

ACLU makes argument for right to counsel at crack retroactivity proceeding

Yesterday, I received a press release from the ACLU noting the filing of a notable brief in the Fifth Circuit.  Here are the basics:

The American Civil Liberties Union today filed its opening brief before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in an effort to preserve the constitutional right to counsel for those seeking resentencing based on the recent reduction to the federal sentencing guideline range for crack-cocaine offenses.

“When an individual’s freedom hangs in the balance, fundamental fairness and the most basic of our constitutional protections demand that the right to counsel be honored,” said Adam Wolf, a staff attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project.  “Those unfairly sentenced under the initial, now infamous crack-cocaine guidelines must not face further injustice through the denial of necessary and deserved legal representation.”...

The ACLU’s brief argues that the denial of such a resentencing motion -- when new facts may be introduced that significantly impact the length of incarceration -- without granting the defendant access to legal counsel or an opportunity to review and respond to new evidence violates the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel and the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, respectively....

The case, U.S. v. Ross, is on appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.  The ACLU’s brief may be found online at this link.

November 22, 2008 at 08:19 AM | Permalink


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The brief is excellant. Anyone with a case involving right to counsel should read this and save it to one's computer.
I am curious as to why 'post sentence' conduct bears on the issue of whether the sentence originally imposed was just. This is not a parole hearing.

If would be relevant to know the approximate cost of incarcerating this person on a daily basis. Does anyone our there have that information?

Posted by: mpb | Nov 24, 2008 11:15:52 AM

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