As predicted in SCOTUSblog after oral argument, despite (or because of) messy (or missing) facts, the U.S. Supreme Court sided yesterday with the state in the Michigan 6th amendment case, Burt v. Titlow. Unanimously. Justice Alito wrote for the majority:
Despite our conclusion that there was no factual or legal justification for overturning the state court’s decision, we recognize that Toca’s conduct in this litigation was far from exemplary. He may well have violated the rules of professional conduct by accepting respondent’s publication rights as partial payment for his services, and he waited weeks before consulting respondent’s first lawyer about the case. But the Sixth Amendment does not guarantee the right to perfect counsel; it promises only the right to effective assistance, and we have held that a lawyer’s violation of ethical norms does not make the lawyer per se ineffective.
[O]ur statement about the facts of this case does not imply that an attorney performs effectively in advising his client to withdraw from a plea whenever the client asserts her innocence and has only a few days to make the decision. Had respondent made a better factual record—had she actually shown, for example, that Toca failed to educate himself about the case before recommending that she withdraw her plea—then she could well have prevailed.
Andrew Cohen quickly posted at The Atlantic "The Supreme Court Doesn't Necessarily Care If Your Lawyer is Unethical:"
This is what the right to counsel has come to in America. Your lawyer may have violated ethical rules; he may have failed to timely consult with other attorneys; he may have not adequately investigated your case; he may have given you bad advice that leads you to withdraw a guilty plea. And yet the legal standards imposed by the Supreme Court declare that you still aren't entitled to any meaningful relief by the courts. In law school, they call this "a right without a remedy." In real life, it's called injustice.