The Florida Supreme Court ruling in Robertson v. Florida is available in Adobe .pdf format.
The Tallahassee Democrat reports, "State Supreme Court orders death-row lawyer to stay on case," by Dara Kam.
A sharply divided Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a Death Row inmate’s lawyer to remain on the case even though convicted murderer James Robertson wants to be executed.
Robertson’s public defender, Steven Bolotin, asked to be removed from the case earlier this year, arguing that Florida Bar rules require him to represent his client’s wishes. Robertson, who has spent more than three decades in prison, was sentenced to death in 2012 for killing his cellmate four years earlier.
“If the attorney is required to seek reversal of his client’s death sentence when the client adamantly desires affirmance of the death sentence it is a legal fiction, at best, to say that the attorney is acting ‘on (the client’s) behalf’ ... or providing advocacy of the client’s interests,” Bolotin wrote in a January motion.
But, in a 4-3 ruling echoing previous decisions, the Supreme Court majority ordered Bolotin to continue to represent Robertson in the direct-appeal process required by Florida law in capital cases.
"Client’s wish for death penalty doesn’t justify defense lawyer’s withdrawal, Fla. supreme court says," is the ABA Journal post by Debra Cassens Weiss.
Robertson can seek leave to file a supplemental brief explaining his own positions and interests, the court said.
In a concurrence, Justice Barbara Parienti argued that ABA standards consider a lawyer’s acquiescence in a client’s desire to be executed to be ineffective assistance. “In other words,” she wrote, “not only does the client have no right to commit state-assisted suicide, but it is actually ineffective—and therefore unethical—conduct for an attorney to accede to this request.” Her opinion was joined by two other justices.
The dissenters argued that the majority infringes on Robertson’s right to decide whether to appeal his death sentence and his right to a lawyer who will abide by his decision regarding the objectives of representation.
Earlier, unrelated, coverage from Florida begins at the link.