Archive | ineffective assistance of counsel

Wednesday, May 1st, 2024

IAC claim rejected on direct appeal because lack of prejudice to defendant is “beyond doubt” and district court sufficiently explained its sentence given “the lesser specificity required for a [revocation] sentence”

Not sure why United States v. Antonio Ortiz, 2d Cir. No. 22-1775-cr (April 30, 2024), is a published opinion rather than a summary order. Judge Menashi’s opinion for the panel (Calabresi, Menashi, Perez) rejects Ortiz’s challenge to his five-year sentence, imposed upon revocation of supervised release after the district court found that he raped his teenage daughter on several occasions.

The issues are fact-specific. Two are worth noting.

First, although the Circuit generally declines to address an IAC claim raised for the first time on direct appeal, it will decide the issue when “the record is developed and the resolution of the claim is beyond doubt.” Op. 7 (citing cases). Here, the record shows that any alleged ineffectiveness by Ortiz’s counsel (in failing to offer certain evidence) would have made no difference to the district judge (the fact-finder),

Second, although a sentencing court is required to state in open …

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Categories: ineffective assistance of counsel, supervised release

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Wednesday, February 21st, 2024

Where a §2255 petition alleges that counsel failed to file a requested notice of appeal, the district court may not summarily dismiss but must undertake a factual inquiry.

In United States v. Thomas, No. 22-2026 (February 21, 2024), the Circuit (Jacobs, Sack, and Nardini) reversed, in a per curiam opinion, the district court’s summary denial of a §2255 petition alleging that counsel failed to file a notice of appeal as petitioner requested. Thomas swore in his petition that he told his lawyer to file the notice of appeal. The district court held that this allegation was insufficient because Thomas did not include details, such as when and how the request was made, whether there were discussions about it, and whether he was aware of the deadlines for an appeal. The Circuit held that the district court’s summary denial was an abuse of discretion. The Court reaffirmed its precedent in United States v. Campuzano, 442 F.3d 770, 776 (2d Cir. 2006), that a factual inquiry is required “when a defendant claims that his attorney failed to file …

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Categories: ineffective assistance of counsel, Notice of Appeal

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Friday, December 9th, 2022

In this summary order, the Circuit vacates a district court judgment that summarily denied a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion, alleging that ineffective assistance counsel caused the petitioner to forego a direct appeal. Kenya Brown v. United States, No. 20-3404-pr (2d Cir. Dec. 6, 2022) (C.J.J.’s Livingston, Nardini, and Menashi) (“Summary Order”).

Petitioner-Appellant Kenya Brown was sentenced on December 28, 2016. But no notice of appeal was filed.

Brown had pleaded guilty, under a plea agreement, to conspiring to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846; and possessing a firearm in furtherance of that conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). At the December 2016 sentencing, he received a sentence of 248 months’ imprisonment and five years’ supervised release — “a sentence on the low-end of the  Guidelines range.” See Summary Order at 2.

But about a year after the sentencing — on January 8, 2018 — Brown filed a pro se petition, under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, alleging that he was “denied effective assistance of counsel with regard to post-sentencing proceedings due to his counsel’s failure to ‘consult with Mr. Brown on the consequences of not filing a direct appeal.’” See Summary Order 2-3. Brown …

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Categories: 2255, ineffective assistance of counsel

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Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Circuit Affirms Convictions for Producing and Distributing Child Pornography

United States v. DiTomasso, No. 17-1699 (2d Cir. July 30, 2019), involves a defendant who was convicted after a jury trial of producing and distributing child pornography. On appeal, he argued that the district court should have granted his motion to suppress certain electronic communications found through searches conducted by two Internet service providers (AOL and Omegle), and reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He also argued that he should have been granted a hearing on whether his trial attorney was ineffective for not calling a witness (the defendant’s uncle) who supposedly would have confessed that he, not the defendant, was guilty of the charged crimes. The Circuit rejected all the defendant’s contentions and affirmed his convictions.

First, the Court held, the AOL searches did not afford a basis for relief. The district court found that the AOL searches constituted government searches for Fourth Amendment …

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Categories: Fourth Amendment, ineffective assistance of counsel

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Friday, May 18th, 2018

Supreme Court Roundup (including post-Dimaya GVRs)

This week the Supreme Court issued a number of significant criminal opinions, as well as a number of GVRs signalling that the holding of Sessions v. Dimaya likely extends to § 924’s residual clause (18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3)(B)).

In McCoy v. Louisiana, 16-8255, the Court held that it was structural Sixth Amendment error for an attorney to concede a defendant’s guilt, against his wishes, in the hope of sparing him the death penalty. McCoy’s attorney argued that his client lacked the mental capacity to form the specific intent necessary for first-degree murder, see slip op. at 3 n.1, but conceded in his opening statement that the jury could not reach “any other conclusion than Robert McCoy was the cause of” the victims’ deaths. Id. at 4. This strategy, the Court held, violated the client’s Sixth Amendment rights regardless whether it was “counsel’s experienced-based view . . . that confessing …

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Categories: 924(c), Fourth Amendment, ineffective assistance of counsel, right to counsel, traffic stop, wiretaps

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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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