Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

U.S. v. MIRANDA

June 21, 2001

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
V.
CARLOS MIRANDA, A/K/A "PACIANO", DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cote, District Judge.

OPINION and ORDER

Defendant Carlos Miranda ("Miranda") was indicted, on April 24, 2001, for the crimes of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and murder in connection with a narcotics conspiracy, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and 848(e)(1)(A). In light of the fact that the maximum penalty for a conviction of 21 U.S.C. § 848(e)(1)(A) is death, and pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3005 and 21 U.S.C. § 848(q)(4), defendant's counsel, Harold J. Pokel ("Pokel"), has recommended an attorney for appointment as additional counsel to assist in Miranda's defense. It is unclear whether this proposed additional counsel qualifies as "learned" in the law applicable to capital cases.

A defendant indicted*fn1 for a capital crime is statutorily entitled, upon his or her request, to representation by two court-appointed attorneys,*fn2 "of whom at least 1 shall be learned in the law applicable to capital cases, and who shall have free access to the accused at all reasonable hours." 18 U.S.C. § 3005 (emphasis supplied). It is also required by statute that at least one attorney representing a defendant in a capital case "have been admitted to practice in the court in which the prosecution is to be tried for not less than five years, and must have had not less than three years experience in the actual trial of felony prosecutions in that court." 18 U.S.C. § 848(q)(5). Interpretations of the "learned in the law applicable to capital cases" phrase suggest, however, that at least in those cases in which the Government may actually intend to seek the death penalty, the additional attorney appointed to represent a defendant in a capital case should ordinarily have significantly more experience than that described in 18 U.S.C. § 848(q)(5).*fn3

The Spencer Committee — a subcommittee of the Defender Services Committee of the Judicial Conference formed to evaluate the expense of federal death penalty cases — published a report ("Spencer Report") describing "learned counsel" as counsel with

distinguished prior experience in the trial, appeal, or post-conviction review of federal death penalty cases, or distinguished prior experience in state death penalty trials, appeals, or post-conviction review that, in combination with cocounsel, will assure high quality representation.

Spencer Report Recommendation 1(b) (emphasis in original).*fn4 The commentary accompanying this Recommendation emphasizes that

the preparation of a death penalty case for trial requires knowledge, skills and abilities which are absent in even the most seasoned felony trial lawyers, if they lack capital experience. An attorney knowledgeable about the nature of capital pretrial litigation, the scope of a mitigation investigation and the impact of the sentencing process on the guilt phase is indispensable.

Id. David Bruck ("Bruck"), a criminal defense lawyer who serves as Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel,*fn5 has described "learned in the law applicable to capital cases" to mean

more than a lawyer who has been to some seminars or a lawyer that is generally conversant with the law. . . . It means, according to the Spencer Committee, a lawyer, and this is the Committee's term, with "distinguished prior experience" in the trial and appellate representation of death penalty cases in federal or state court. And as a practical matter, since there have been so few federal cases, not only in the Second Circuit, but throughout the nation that have actually gone to trial, it means lawyers with distinguished prior experience in state death penalty cases.
Now, the implication of that for most of the Second Circuit it obvious. It means out of state counsel. . . .
Eventually there will, of course, be a cadre of experienced New York lawyers who have been around the block in death penalty litigation, but that's still a few years off. And the federal courts in New York and in Vermont, and to some degree in Connecticut, have appointed out-of-state counsel. Not always from terribly far away. There is a capital defense bar that is seasoned and available in New Jersey, right across the river, and that's where most of the "learned counsel" have been drawn from in New York State courts. There also have been appointments made from as far away as D.C. and Baltimore and other areas where an experienced death penalty bar can be found.

Judicial Conference, Second Judicial Circuit of the United States, 196 F.R.D. 79 (1999), WL 196 FEDRDTP 79. According to the Spencer Report and Bruck's interpretation of its terms, counsel "learned in the law applicable to capital cases" must have actually participated in death penalty trials, appeals, or post-conviction review of death penalty cases in state or federal court.

The American Bar Association ("ABA") has published guidelines for the appointment and performance of counsel in death penalty cases which describes, in detail, the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.