to the scholarly work published by the individual Stein
Faculty members, the Stein Center collaborates with
other academics, leading members of the bar and organizations
within Fordham to produce writings on legal ethics and
public interest issues. The collaboration advances the
dialogue in these areas and assists attorneys confronted
by difficult issues in their practice.
Center has co-authored three amicus briefs involving
legal ethics issues in civil and criminal cases before
the Supreme Court and has joined a group of legal ethics
professors as amici in a fourth.
v. Moore (PDF file), raised the question of whether
execution by electric chair constitutes cruel and unusual
punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
brief was filed, Florida amended its statute to provide
for lethal injection as an alternative to electrocution,
and the Court therefore dismissed the case as moot.
v. Taylor (PDF file), raised various procedural
questions. One aspect of the case, addressed by the
amicus brief, involved a question of government lawyers'
ethics. After the state court affirmed the defendant's
conviction, and while the defendant was planning to
challenge the conviction in federal court, the defendant's
lawyer requested that the government produce evidence
that might show that the key prosecution witness was
prosecutor possessed such evidence, he failed to produce
it at the trial. After the conviction was affirmed,
he refused to disclose it, arguing that once the conviction
was upheld on appeal, he no longer had the obligation
that a prosecutor ordinarily would have to turn over
brief argued that the prosecutor had misconceived his
professional obligations. Ultimately, the Court did
not address the issue discussed in the amicus brief,
but the death sentence was overturned on other grounds.
amicus brief was filed in Legal
Services Corporation v. Carmen Velazquez, et al
(PDF file). The case challenged the Legal Services Corporation's
1996 restrictions prohibiting LSC-funded lawyers from
challenging state or federal welfare reform statutes
or regulations on constitutional or other grounds. The
amicus brief focused on the restrictions' effect on
welfare recipients' access to legal services as well
as the restriction's implications for lawyers' ethical
The case was
decided February 28, 2001, at which time the Supreme
Court found the restrictions to be unconstitutional.
Mickens,Jr. v. John B. Taylor, Warden (PDF file),
in which the Stein Center joined as amici, was argued
on November 5.Defendant's court appointed counsel in
a felony murder case also happened to have been assigned
to represent the deceased victim in an unrelated assault
case. The assault case was dismissed as a result of
his death. The judge who dismissed the decedent's assault
case subsequently appointed the same counsel to represent
defendant. Neither the judge nor the attorney disclosed
those facts to defendant. The sole question presented
was whether a defendant must show an actual conflict
of interest and an adverse effect in order to establish
a Sixth Amendment violation where the trial court failed
to inquire into a potential conflict of interest about
which it reasonably should have known.
brief argued that a conflict of interest sufficient
to be cognizable under the Sixth Amendment ineffective
assistance standard existed, and that defendant should
not be required to demonstrate any adverse effect. Stressing
the critical importance of the historical duty of loyalty
in shaping the ethical duties of counsel in the United
States, the brief also argued the attorney's representation
of defendant was materially limited by his duties to
decedent, particularly regarding the character and conduct
of the decedent which were pertinent issues in the case.