Coleman V Alabama, Essay

333 Words2 Pages
FACTS: 1. Petitioner was convicted of assault with intent to murder Mr. Reynolds. At the trial, Mr. Reynolds testified that three men approached him and his wife. 2. One of the men shot Reynolds and who also testified that Coleman put his hands on Mrs. Reynolds. As a car approached, the men ran away after one of them shot Reynolds a second time. 3. The victim testified that, "in the car lights" while "looking straight at him," he saw the petitioner who shot him and saw the other petitioner "face to face." He also stated that he identified the gunman at the station house before the formal lineup began. The victims identified Coleman and the others as the perpetrators. 4. At a pretrial hearing, Coleman was without any counsel to advise him of legal issues presented. Under Alabama law, the issues to be determined at a preliminary hearing concern whether there is probable cause to present the case to the grand jury and to fix bail. 5. Following his trial and conviction, Coleman argued on appeal that Alabama's failure to provide him with appointed counsel at the preliminary hearing unconstitutionally violated the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, a critical stage of the prosecution. ISSUE: Is preliminary hearing considered a critical stage of the criminal justice process for which the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is required? HOLDING: Yes. RATIONALE: 1. Petitioners had a right to the assistance of counsel at the preliminary hearing not because it is deemed part of a "fair trial" by judges but because the Sixth Amendment establishes a right to counsel in all criminal prosecutions. 2. Petitioners constitutional rights were violated when they were refused counsel at the preliminary hearing. 3. Trained counsel can more effectively discover the case the State has against the client and make possible the preparation of a proper defense to meet

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