Archive | ineffective assistance of counsel

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Second Circuit Updates – September 29, 2016

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Johnson Applies to 18 U.S.C. 924(c)

The Supreme Court granted certiorari today in Lynch v. Dimaya, 15-1498, 2016 WL 3232911 (U.S., Sep. 29, 2016). The issue is whether the residual clause in 18 U.S.C. § 16(b), which has the same wording as the residual clause in 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), is void for vagueness under Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). The Ninth Circuit held in Dimaya that Johnson applies to the residual clause in section 924(c) and there is a split in the Circuits. In light of certiorari grant, district judges should be urged not to deny Johnson claims involving section 924(c) convictions based on the Second Circuit’s decision in United States v. Hill, __ F.3d __, 2016 WL 4120667 (2d Cir. Aug.3, 2016). Courts should instead await the decision in Dimaya and resolution of the Hill rehearing …


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Categories: 924(c), ineffective assistance of counsel, Johnson

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Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Court rejects IAC claim because defendant cannot show that he would not have pleaded guilty absent counsel’s mis-advice about guidelines range

Only one summary order from the Circuit today in the criminal realm: In United States v. Jeremy Viles, Docket No. 15-885-cr, the Court (Livingston, Carney, Stanceu), rejected the defendant’s claim that he should be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea based on then-counsel’s allegedly erroneous advice regarding the advisory Guidelines range he would face at sentencing. Under Circuit law, in order to meet Strickland’s prejudice component in this context, the “‘defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that were it not for counsel’s errors, he would not have pled guilty and would have proceeded to trial.’” Order at 2 (quoting United States v. Arteca, 411 F.3d 315, 320 (2d Cir. 2005)). Viles fails to do so.

Even assuming that counsel erred in telling him that he faced a range of 27 to 33 months (rather than a slightly lower range), Viles cannot show that he …


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Categories: guideline, ineffective assistance of counsel

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Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Second Circuit Updates – August 24, 2016 – Part 2

I. A state court’s ruling denying collateral review of a “mixed claim” of  ineffective assistance of counsel (involving matters on the record and outside of the record),  on the procedural ground that the claim was not raised on direct appeal, was not “adequate” to bar federal habeas corpus review (28 U.S.C. § 2254).

Pierotti v. Walsh, No.15-1944-pr (Circuit Judges: Pooler, Livingston, and Lohier), holds that a state prisoner’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel (“IAC”) was not procedurally barred under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 .

A. The state trial

Petitioner Pierotti has been hearing impaired since childhood. He “wears hearing aids in both ears,” and “the only hearing aid he had with him in jail broke.”  At a pretrial hearing, his lawyer asked for a continuance to make “some accommodation for his hearing loss.”  The judge denied the request saying “this is a very small courtroom” and suggesting that …


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Categories: ineffective assistance of counsel, supervised release

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Second Circuit Updates – August 24, 2016 – Part 1

The Circuit issued three Opinions today that are relevant to people litigating issues of criminal law.  Below is a brief description, which will be followed up with more discussion later.

I. In Pierotti v. Walsh, No.15-1944-pr (Circuit Judges: Pooler, Livingston, and Lohier), the Circuit ruled in favor of a State prisoner. It holds that his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, presented under 28 U.S.C. § 2254,  is not procedurally barred.

The petitioner in the case was hearing impaired since childhood and required two hearing aids.  His last hearing aid was destroyed while he was in jail awaiting trial.  The ineffective assistance of counsel (“IAC”) claim was that his trial lawyer did not take measures to ensure his hearing disability was accommodated at trial, so he could not understand much of what was occurring.

The IAC claim was not raised on direct appeal.  But it was presented in a …


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Categories: Hobbs Act, ineffective assistance of counsel, interstate commerce

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Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Second Circuit affirms above-guideline sentence; declines to consider one IAC claim on direct review, but rejects another where record below was sufficiently developed on the point

In United States v. Pendergrass, 15-1965, the Second Circuit affirmed the conviction of Terrence Pendergrass, a former captain at Rikers Island, on one count of willfully violating the constitutional rights of an inmate, who died following the ingestion of cleaning supplies, by refusing to get him medical attention and prohibiting other guards from getting him medical attention.  Pendergrass raised three issues:  that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial, that the District Court improperly instructed the jury regarding willfulness and conscious avoidance, and that his above-guideline sentence was unreasonable.

With respect to the ineffective assistance of counsel claims, the Court declined to consider Pendergrass’s first claim (that Pendergrass’s attorney was ineffective because he failed to call witnesses that would have been material to the defense) because the record with respect to the witnesses’ potential testimony was insufficiently developed to be considered on direct review.  The Court did reach …


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Categories: conscious avoidance, ineffective assistance of counsel, jury charge, substantive reasonableness, willful causation

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Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Second Circuit “Disturb[ed] That District Courts Do Not Routinely Follow” Rule 11

rule 11 meme

Today in United States v. Pattee, the Second Circuit (Calabresi, Lynch, Lohier, CJJ.) found it “disturbing that district courts do not routinely follow the minimal procedures put in place to protect defendants’ rights.”

In accepting a guilty plea to producing, distributing and possessing child pornography, the district court (Geraci, Ch.J.) failed to advise the defendant of “five of the approximately fifteen rights” listed in Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11.  The Circuit found this troubling, as the “Court has stated time and again that [w]e have adopted a standard of strict adherence to Rule 11” and that “compliance with Rule 11 is not a difficult task” because “errors can be avoided if a district or magistrate judge has a standard script for accepting guilty pleas. . . .  Yet failures to meet those requirements are a recurring issue.”  The Court further cautioned that “even strict adherence to Rule 11 …


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Categories: child pornography, ineffective assistance of counsel, Rule 11

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Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Second Circuit Updates – April 7, 2016

No decisions or orders out of the Second Circuit today. Two interesting notes:

  • An attorney in Albany received a public reprimand and a two-year ban from practicing as a CJA lawyer before the Second Circuit for “engaging in conduct unbecoming a member of the bar.” The attorney had failed to file documents in a timely manner on numerous occasions in at least 3 different cases, among other unprofessional conduct. The Second Circuit found two aggravating factors in making this finding. First, that the attorney had been privately reprimanded for the same sort of behavior previously and that the “misconduct occurred in criminal appeals, where important liberty interests are at stake.” Interestingly, the panel (Cabranes, Sack, and Wesley) made clear that the order “should not be perceived” as requiring reciprocal discipline in the district court, where the attorney can still practice. (See New York Law Journal article here.)
  • Yesterday a

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Categories: ineffective assistance of counsel, interstate commerce

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Sunday, June 17th, 2012

How Not To Hire An Investigator

Matthews v. United States, No. 10-0611-pr (2d Cir. June 14, 2012) (Kearse, Cabranes, Straub, CJJ)

Petitioner Michael Matthews was convicted of a 2006 bank robbery and received a life sentence under the federal “three strikes” statute, 18 U.S.C. § 3559(c). After exhausting his direct appeals, he filed a 2255 motion alleging, amongst other things, ineffectiveness of his trial counsel.

Matthew’s specific claim was that his counsel was ineffective because hired a private investigator, an ex-cop named Haumann, whom he knew had a conflict of interest. Matthews alleged that when Haumann was a police officer, he had arrested and “viciously assaulted” Matthews and had also treated him “with racial disdain and insensitivity.” Matthews backed this up with a newspaper article that confirmed the facts, except for the racial allegations. Nevertheless, the district court, adopting the government’s characterization of the claim as “general” “cursory” and “vague,” denied the petition without …


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Categories: conflict of interest, ineffective assistance of counsel, Uncategorized

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Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Deal Or No Deal?

United States v. Marks, No. 08-1207-cr (2d Cir. October 19, 2010) (Leval, Hall, Livingston, CJJ)

Defendant Chad Marks was convicted after a jury trial of drug trafficking offenses and two § 924(c) counts, and was sentenced to the resulting 40-year mandatory minimum. The trial came after months of plea negotiations, including an offer by the government to resolve the case with a 20-year sentence.

Before trial, Marks had filed a motion with the district court seeking to compel the government to follow up on a different plea offer that, apparently, was in the nature of a cooperation agreement. The court denied the motion and the case proceeded to trial.

But after trial, Marks’ counsel renewed that motion and, this time, the government’s opposition indicated that the government had extended a 20-year offer before trial. Before sentencing, Marks filed a pro se habeas corpus petition under 18 U.S.C. § 2241 claiming …


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Categories: ineffective assistance of counsel, Rule 33, Uncategorized

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Saturday, April 10th, 2010

An Appeal To Reason

Ramchair v. Conway, No. 08-2004-pr (2d Cir. April 2, 2010)(Winter, Calabresi, Sack, CJJ)

It seems as if most Second Circuit habeas decisions deal only with the procedural hurdles faced by state prisoners. So it is indeed remarkable that the court has decided two cases less than one week apart in which it got through the procedural thicket and actually resolved the substantive issue presented in the case. This decision, in which the court agrees that the petitioner’s state court appellate counsel was constitutionally ineffective, is accordingly blog-worthy.

The case has a long history. Ramchair was charged with a 1995 robbery after he was identified in a fairly suspect lineup, at which his counsel was present. He moved to suppress the identification and, after a hearing, the trial court denied the motion. He then had two trials that ended in mistrials, but at which the issue of counsel’s presence at the …


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Categories: ineffective assistance of counsel, Uncategorized

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Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Global Warming

United States v. Yauri, No. 08-1105-cr (2d Cir. March 12, 2009)(Sack, Wesley, CJJ, Kahn, DJ) (per curiam)

In Yauri’s money laundering plea agreement, the government agreed to a two-level reduction for a “global disposition” and to a loss amount of “more than $30,000.” His presentence report, however, recommended guidelines calculation based on a loss of more than $154,000 and omitted the global disposition reduction. At sentencing, his counsel, who had not attended the plea hearing, did not object to the omission of the global reduction, and agreed that the loss amount in the presentence report was correct, despite the language in the plea agreement and the fact that Yauri had not allocuted to a specific loss amount.

On appeal, he argued that his counsel was ineffective, and the government agreed, but only with respect to the failure to call the court’s attention to the global disposition reduction. The court agreed, …


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Categories: ineffective assistance of counsel, Uncategorized

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