The government argued in its appeal that a new trial was not warranted unless the defendant could show that the preferred lawyer would have made a difference in the outcome....Compare Justice Alito:
Justice Antonin Scalia was clearly unimpressed by the argument that as long as the trial was fair and the lawyer competent, the Sixth Amendment was not violated.
"Let's say the defendant wanted to be represented by a relative who specialized in real estate law," Justice Alito said. If that lawyer was disqualified and the defendant was eventually represented by an experienced criminal defense lawyer with a national reputation, "why wouldn't that be harmless error?" he asked.
That would still be "unquestionably a Sixth Amendment violation," [the defendant's lawyer] replied.