WASHINGTON, DC - Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill yesterday made oral arguments before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in the matter of McCoy v. Louisiana.
Murrill is part of the Louisiana Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Landry. She and others from General Landry's Office have been working with District Attorney Schuyler Marvin of Louisiana's 26th Judicial District Court to defend the case.
"This is a case with a complicated pre-trial history and significant competing policy interests; it simply boils down to the fact that when a defendant chooses to have an attorney represent him, he gives that attorney the right to shape his defense," explained Murrill. "That does not mean lawyers have a blank check - all lawyers should respect and defend their client's objectives in a case; but these cases are frequently very complex."
During trial, Robert McCoy's defense attorney Larry English proclaimed his client's guilt in hopes of getting him a lesser sentence. However McCoy was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to death for an extreme act of violence. This court ruling prompted McCoy to argue that his attorney was not acting in his best interest when telling the jury McCoy was guilty without his consent.
"The decision by counsel appears to have been made out of an extreme sense of loyalty to a man charged with three counts of capital murder for executing his in-laws and 17-year-old stepson," added Murrill. "That kind of loyalty, even the State believes, should not be unconstitutional."
"The evidence in this case was overwhelming," said District Attorney Schuyler Marvin. "That should count for something."
While Louisiana acknowledged that some situations do require an attorney to receive his client's consent prior to moving forward, the State does not believe this is one of those cases. In 2004, the Louisiana Supreme Court said they "recognized that this defense may be the best and perhaps only viable strategy to save the defendant's life when the state has overwhelming evidence the defendant committed the charged murders."
A ruling by SCOTUS is anticipated by the Summer.