NYC Public Defenders Submit Legal Brief in Invocation of Right to Counsel Case

New York – The Bronx Defenders submitted a friend-of-the court brief before the New York Court of Appeals, on behalf of itself and six other public defense providers in New York City, in a case involving the invocation of the right to counsel during police interrogations.

The case, People v. Slocum, is headed to the state’s highest court after an Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court overturned the defendant’s conviction, finding that police interrogated Mr. Slocum in the absence of an attorney, after his right to counsel was invoked by his public defender. If upheld, the case would likely be retried with a new jury and without admission of Mr. Slocum’s statements to police.

The prosecution argues that a suspect’s affirmative assent to representation in a new matter is required before an attorney who already represents that individual may enter the new matter and invoke that person’s constitutional rights.

In their brief, the public defenders take issue with this claim, arguing that the government’s “mistaken account of the law in this area is not only wrong but, if adopted, would significantly diminish fundamental constitutional protections for arrestees in custody.” Click here to read the brief.

Oral argument has been scheduled for February 7, 2017.