Penson v. Ohio

LOCATION: Sable Communications of California

DOCKET NO.: 87-6116
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 488 US 75 (1988)
ARGUED: Oct 12, 1988
DECIDED: Nov 29, 1988

Gregory L. Ayers - on behalf of the Petitioner
Mark B. Robinette - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case

Appointment of a lawyer in a criminal proceeding is carried out through the determination of the judicial body. The court is empowered to appoint a lawyer if the party has applied for a lawyer on a gratuitous basis for special reasons. This case brief deals with the replacement of a lawyer in criminal proceedings.

The replacement of a lawyer in a criminal proceeding, according to the case study, is a rather complex and difficult process, both from a legal and a psychological point of view. The theory and practice of criminal law says the following: a lawyer is invited by a suspect charged with a crime or his legal representatives (if the person has funds for payment), and also by an investigator or inquirer at the request of the said persons (if there are no such funds, the service is paid for from the budget, which means that it is free for the client).

Invited defender, if to follow the position of the legislator, should carry out legal and moral support to his ward, which means collecting data that will be used to protect the person, consulting services, drafting documents necessary to implement the "line of defense", and so on. In this case, a new lawyer was appointed to the accused. After reviewing the case materials, he did not discover any possible errors, and also the reasons for the replacement. Thus, the precedent established the scope of sufficient grounds for replacing a lawyer, as well as the procedure for legal regulation of this process within the framework of constitutional norms.


Media for Penson v. Ohio

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 12, 1988 in Penson v. Ohio

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - November 29, 1988 in Penson v. Ohio

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 87-6116, Penson against Ohio will be announced by Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

This case comes to us on a writ of certiorari to the Ohio Court of Appeals.

It involves an application of our decision in Anders against California, a case we decided about 20 years ago.

Petitioner is an indigent.

After a jury convicted him of several serious crimes, counsel was appointed to represent him on appeal.

The lawyer, however, did not file an appellate brief but instead filed a motion seeking leave to withdraw.

Although the motion simply asserted that in reviewing the record, counsel found no reversible errors and although the Court of Appeals did not itself examine the record to confirm counsel's conclusion, the court granted counsel leave to withdraw.

Subsequently, upon ultimately reviewing the record for error, the Court of Appeals found several arguable claims that it did not appoint a new lawyer to represent the petitioner.

As more fully explained in an opinion filed with the Clerk of the Court, we conclude that under our decision in Anders, counsel should not have been permitted to withdraw and that in any event, after finding that the record presented several arguable claims, the Court of Appeals should certainly have appointed a new lawyer to represent the petitioner.

We further hold that under our relevant decisions, the error in this case was neither harmless nor non-prejudicial.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals affirming petitioner’s conviction is therefore reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings.

Justice O’Connor has filed a concurring statement, and the Chief Justice has filed a dissenting opinion.