Why The Right To Choose Counsel Matters

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7 Responses

  1. Simon says:

    Why wouldn’t this principle implicate all cases in which counsel is appointed by the court? I would think that the accused’s trust for counsel would be at its nadir in such cases, but we do not insist that an indigent defendant gets to survey a pool of potential public defenders to pick out the one s/he trusts and feels most comfortable with.

    I also remain confused as to how courts are to maintain the ability to define standards for practise before themselves in the face of an unrestricted right to choose counsel? Doesn’t the Supreme Court’s own rule 5 circumscribe the choice of counsel available to a litigant? What about FRAP 46? To be sure, most courts have a pro hac vice rule, but the point of that rule is to make a discretionary exception to a general rule in appropriate circumstances; what becomes of the exception absent the rule? It seems to me that what is really at issue here is whether or not rules such as these – which unquestionably restrict one’s choice of counsel – are constitutional. What am I missing?

  2. Anonymous says:

    “They know the facts of their own crimes.”

    Wow. So you assume that all defendant’s are guilty? That certainly colors your analysis.

  3. Daniel Millstone says:

    This is not a case concerning court appointed lawyers. All the lawyers here were getting paid.

    In this case, there was a actual attorney preferred by the defendant. That attorney’s motion to appear was denied by the court on the ground that the new attorney had communicated with the defendant while the defendant was still represented by the old attorney — (a violation of the state disciplinary rule against stealing clients?).

  4. Simon says:


    Well, the instant case (as it seems to me, at least) is whether a court may have rules for practising before itself. The respondents in this case seem to be asking the court to say that an application to appear pro hac vice is a mere formality, since to recognize a right of litigants to be represented by any counsel of their choice is to deny the power of a court to exclude a counsellor from practise before the court. So I think this is actually a very simple case: will the Supreme Court of the United States declare that no court – itself included – can ever again deny a pro hac vice application?

  5. CBH says:

    Actually, the Eighth Circuit found that the district court judge had no legitimate reason for denying chosen counsel’s motion for admission pro hac vice, and there is an inference to be drawn that the district court judge was trying to punish the attorney for something that occurred in a previous case.

    Tony Mauro has an interesting article about the case in the Legal Times:


  6. ed says:

    Forgive me for beliving that the Constitution actually means what it says, but “right to counsel” would imply any damn fool that you wish to have. It doesn’t say “counsel that has been approved by third parties” but counsel unqualified.