Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Defendant who pleads nolo contendere is precluded from suing for legal malpractice
Here is a recent case in a long line of bad cases that hold that a criminal defendant does not have a right to sue his or her attorney for legal malpractice. I had posted about it in my torts blog this summer but forgot to mention it here so here it is... In this instance, the West Virginia Supreme Court held that a criminal defendant who, having obtained habeas relief, pled nolo contendere to the criminal charges. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ketchum argued that the court's decision is contrary to 148 years of precedent as well as rules of procedure and evidence. He also argues that the decision "obliterates a criminal plea that served a very useful purpose." You can read the opinion here and the dissent here.