The Supreme Court and Defense Counsel Conflicts


The Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in a case in which the Court has the opportunity to clarify and improve its constitutional jurisprudence dealing with conflict of interest and criminal defense counsel. In Mickens t. Taylor, 227 E3d 203, rev'd en banc, 253 F3d 1274 (4th Cir. 2001), the Court con- fronts the troubling situation of a criminal defendant in a capital murder case who was represented by a lawyer who had previously represented the murder victim and failed to disclose that fact to the client. Despite the seemingly obvious inappropriateness of the lawyer's conduct, the judges in the lower courts who considered Mickens's Sixth Amendment claim struggled to determine the applicable constitutional standard and reached disparate conclusions as to what that standard is and whether it provides relief to Mickens.


Conflict-of-Interest, Criminal Litigation

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Criminal Justice

Publication Information

17 (4) Criminal Justice 40 (2002)

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COinS Peter A. Joy Faculty Bio