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american lawyer media news service Philadelphia-A criminal defendant who gives her lawyer fraudulent documents to be used at her trial forfeits her right to “effective assistance of counsel,” the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. In U.S. v. Lamplugh, No. 03-1009, a unanimous three-judge panel overturned a lower court’s decision that granted Theresa Lamplugh a new trial on the ground that her lawyer had provided the prosecutors with the evidence used to convict her by turning over the fraudulent tax documents in the middle of the trial-before he had thoroughly reviewed them himself. Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas Vanaskie of the Middle District of Pennsylvania had found that the lawyer was ineffective for two reasons: failing to inspect the documents and failing to warn his client of the consequences of producing documents that could be viewed as fabrications. The lawyer turned over the documents under Fed. R. Crim. P. 16. Hoodwinking backfires But the 3d Circuit ordered the conviction reinstated, finding that such a defendant loses her right to have a competent lawyer. Attempts to hoodwink one’s own lawyer, a jury and the court should never pay off, the court said. “If this court were to grant Mrs. Lamplugh a new trial based on her claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, we would allow a defendant to manipulate the justice system by knowingly presenting fabricated written documents to her counsel in an attempt to deceive the court, the jury, and the government into accepting her theory of defense, or by successfully gaining a new trial when the strategy failed because the defense counsel did not detect the fraud,” visiting Senior Judge Arthur L. Alarcon of the 9th Circuit wrote. According to court papers, Theresa and Harry Lamplugh operated a gun-show promotion business that came under scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms because it generated a cash flow from gate receipts and display table rentals. In a raid on the Lamplugh home in 1994, agents seized firearms and financial documents. They later subpoenaed the couple’s bank records. Ultimately both Lamplughs were indicted on firearms charges. A few months later, prosecutors added tax-evasion charges, alleging that the couple had failed to file federal income tax returns for 1991 and 1992.

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