Court: Defense Lawyers Have Final Say on Witnesses

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that defense lawyers -- and not defendants -- have final authority on which witnesses to put on the stand during a criminal trial.

The court released its decision on Thursday.

Vincent Puglisi had argued that his rights were violated when his attorneys refused to call his co-defendant as a witness in a murder trial. Puglisi thought the man would "come clean" and clear him of involvement. His lawyers disagreed.

The court said deciding which witness to call involves tactical decision making. Lawyers must have final say or it will undermine the goal of "vigorous and effective advocacy" and defendants may as well represent themselves.

The case is Puglisi v. State of Florida, No. SC11-768.

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