Monday, April 15, 2013

Lawyer Has Final Say on Witness List

Interesting holding from Florida Supreme Court:
Puglisi v. State 
Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial judge erred in refusing to allow Defendant to call a witness despite defense counsel's determination that calling the witness would not be of benefit to Defendant's case. The Fourth District court of appeal held that determining which witnesses should be called by the defense is not a fundamental decision to be made by the defendant himself, and therefore, the trial court did not err in its judgment. The Fourth District subsequently certified conflict with the Fifth District's decision in Cain v. State. The Supreme Court (1) approved the decision of the Fourth District in this case and disapproved the decision of the Fifth District in Cain, holding that defense counsel has the final authority as to whether or not the defense will call a particular witness to testify at the criminal trial; and (2) receded from its decision in Blanco v. State to the extent it held that the ultimate decision rests with the defendant as to the presentation of witnesses. 
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