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United States v. Gonzalez-Lopez

United States Supreme Court
548 U.S. 140 (2006)


Facts

Gonzalez-Lopez (Lopez) (defendant) was charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana. His family hired an attorney named John Fahle to represent him. Lopez later hired another attorney, Joseph Low, to represent him and told Fahl that he wanted Low to be his only attorney. Low filed for admission pro hac vice but the court denied his request. Low filed for admission a second time and was again denied without comment. Another attorney, Dickhaus, represented Lopez at trial. Dickhaus requested that Low be allowed to sit at counsel’s table. The court denied this request and ordered Low not to have contact with Dickhaus during the trial. Lopez was found guilty. Lopez appealed. The appellate court reversed Lopez’s conviction and held that the denial of Low’s requests for admission violated Lopez’s right to paid counsel of his choice guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. The court held that the violation of Lopez’s Sixth Amendment right was not subject to harmless error analysis. The United States (plaintiff) appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)

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Dissent (Alito, J.)

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