Perry v. Leeke

LOCATION:Sable Communications of California

DOCKET NO.: 87-6325
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 488 US 272 (1989)
ARGUED: Nov 08, 1988
DECIDED: Jan 01, 1989

Donald J. Zelenka – on behalf of the respondent
W. Gaston Fairey – on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Perry v. Leeke

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 08, 1988 in Perry v. Leeke

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – January 01, 1989 in Perry v. Leeke

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 87-6325, Perry against Leeke will be announced by Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

At the conclusion of petitioner’s direct testimony in his criminal trial, the judge declared a 15-minute recess and ordered the petitioner not be allowed to talk to anyone including his lawyer during the break.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that this order violated petitioner’s Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of counsel, but it also held that the conviction should stand because the order did not prejudice the petitioner.

We disagree with the Fourth Circuit’s prejudice analysis.

If a criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to assistance of counsel has been violated because of a denial of access to counsel, then a conviction must be reversed without consideration of prejudice.

However, we also hold that in this case, the denial of access to counsel during the 15-minute recess before cross-examination did not violate the Sixth Amendment.

Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Justice Kennedy has filed an opinion concurring in part; Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion which is joined by Justice Brennan and Justice Blackmun.