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The Nation

The Supreme Court, on a 6-3 vote, said that a defendant testifying in his own behalf has no right to consult with his lawyer during a brief recess. In 1976, the justices said a defendant must be allowed to talk to his lawyer during an overnight recess, but the majority refused to extend the ruling. Justice John Paul Stevens noted that the defendant in this case was about to be cross-examined. “It is entirely appropriate for the trial judge to decide . . . that cross-examination is more likely to elicit truthful responses” if the witness was not allowed to consult with third parties, Stevens wrote in the case (Perry vs. Leeke, 87-6325). The ruling upholds a life sentence given to a South Carolina man convicted of murder, kidnaping and assault.


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