This Article presents an empirical study of attorney-client decision-making in a sample of 139 criminal cases in which the key decision was whether to pursue a clinically supported insanity defense. The study is of interest for two reasons: first, it augments the general literature on attorney-client interactions in criminal defense; second, it sheds light on the relation between client involvement in decisions regarding the defense or disposition of criminal cases and defense attorneys' perceptions of their clients' competence.

The competence of criminal defendants to make decisions is of particular importance in the wake of the Supreme Court's 1993 decision in Godinez v. Moran. In holding that the constitutional standard for competence to plead guilty is the same as the standard for competence to stand trial, the Court pointed out that defendants are called upon to make numerous decisions in the course of a criminal case, whether or not the case is tried.3 To our knowledge, this article presents the only systematic study of the relation between client competence, as perceived by their attorneys, and decision-making participation.

Richard J. Bonnie et al., Decision-Making in Criminal Defense: An Empirical Study of Insanity Pleas and the Impact of Doubted Client Competence , 87 Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 48–62 (1996).