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FIRST IMPRESSIONS & SPLIT DECISION – CRIMINAL LAW, Can a trial court instruct counsel not

Can a trial court instruct defense counsel not to confer with the defendant during overnight recess while the defendant is in the middle of testifying? The Fourth Court addressed this issue for the first time last week in Villarreal v. State.

The majority held the trial court did not violate the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel by, before an overnight recess in the middle of the defendant’s testimony, instructing counsel not to discuss the defendant’s testimony with him. The dissent would have held the trial court’s instruction constituted structural error that violated the defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights.

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