NY federal appeals court: Assertion of 5th Amendment right to counsel can't be proof of guilt

A federal appeals court says prosecutors can't use a defendant's request for a lawyer as evidence of guilt.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York noted Monday that it was touching new legal ground as it ruled against the government in a case prosecuted in Albany, N.Y.

The appeals court has ordered a new trial for a man convicted of charges relating to illegally bringing an alien into the United States. The case involved the arrest of a U.S. citizen who had tried to enter the country with a German citizen in 2010 near Buffalo, N.Y.

The appeals court says prosecutors unfairly used the U.S. citizen's request for an attorney as evidence of his guilt.