Luis v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: March 30, 2016
  • Case #: No. 14–419.
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: BREYER, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and GINSBURG and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. KEN- NEDY, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined. KAGAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
  • Full Text Opinion

A pretrial injunction prohibiting a criminal defendant from using personal assets unrelated to the criminal offense to retain counsel is a violation of the Sixth Amendment.

Petitioner was charged with fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars related to health care. The United States sought a pretrial injunction to freeze Petitioner’s assets, including those unrelated to the criminal charge. The United States argued that Petitioner’s assets should be restrained to ensure that funds will remain available for statutory penalties and restitution. Petitioner claimed that restraining funds unrelated to the criminal charge is a violation of the Sixth Amendment because it prohibits Petitioner from obtaining the counsel of her choice. The District Court granted the injunction to restrain Petitioner’s assets and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court reasoned that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is a fundamental right that outweighs the governments interest in ensuring the availability of funds for penalties and restitution. Further, the Court reasoned that accepting the Government’s argument would erode the right to counsel by allowing laws to be made that authorize restraint of assets in cases with significant financial penalties. The Court vacated and remanded the case, holding that a pretrial injunction prohibiting a criminal defendant from using personal assets unrelated to the criminal offense to retain counsel is a violation of the Sixth Amendment.

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