Lee Davis: Supreme Court Supports Defendants Seeking To Raise Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel Claims

Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - by Lee Davis
Lee Davis
Lee Davis
In a recent 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court decided Trevina v. Thaler to extend a ruling it made last year which allowed prisoners to challenge their state convictions in federal court based on the claim that their attorneys were ineffective.

Last year, the Court considered a case out of Arizona which challenged the state’s law saying that claims of ineffective assistance of counsel had to be raised in a separate post-conviction motion and not in a direct appeal of the original conviction. The problem with this approach is that there is no right to an attorney in the post-conviction motion phase, though there is in the direct appeal phase.
The Supreme Court ruled that federal courts are allowed to hear challenged to Arizona convictions based on ineffective assistance if the defendant had no lawyer in the separate post-conviction challenge.

The Supreme Court said in the Arizona case that by insisting that ineffective assistance of counsel be claimed outside the appeals process where counsel is constitutionally guaranteed, Arizona significantly diminished defendants’ ability to file such a claim.

The new case concerned the Texas criminal justice system which also encourages, though does not require, that such ineffective assistance of counsel claims be raised in separate proceedings and not as a part of a direct appeal. The Supreme Court decided the distinction between Texas and Arizona was unimportant and that the tradition was enough to deprive some defendants of the chance to raise ineffective assistance claims. The Court said that as a matter of practice, the Texas system does not offer most defendants a meaningful chance to present a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal.

Given the recent decision, it seems clear the Court is willing to go great lengths to ensure that defendants have the opportunity to raise ineffective assistance of counsel claims as part of the direct appeals process where they are constitutionally ensured legal representation. 

To read the full opinion, click here

(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at lee@davis-hoss.com or at 266-0605.)



Coding Bootcamp Covalence Announces Opening Of New Location In Chattanooga

Covalence (formerly Depot/U) announced the commencement of its first class at the company’s brand new location in Chattanooga. The Coding bootcamp will begin their Chattanooga program with a 10-week Full Stack Development course focused on creating end-to-end web applications. Students will learn the basics of front end development, create custom application programing interfaces ... (click for more)

Partnership FCA Celebrates Opening Of New Location June 7

Partnership for Families, Children and Adults, Inc. will celebrate the grand opening of the new location for two of its programs with a ribbon cutting on June 7 at 1 p.m.   Both Deaf Services and Consumer Credit Counseling have moved into a new office space at the Eastgate Center.  The location is at 5600 Brainerd Road, Suite E-1.   The Chattanooga Area ... (click for more)

Man Found With Home-Made Explosive Device Near Businesses In Hixson

A man was found with a home-made explosive device outside businesses in Hixson late Tuesday night.   A business was evacuated and portions of Highway 153 and Hamill Road were cordoned off while the device was taken away.   Joshua Redden, 34, was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon, public intoxication, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession ... (click for more)

Man Shot In Home Invasion Early Wednesday Morning

A man was shot in a home invasion early Wednesday morning.   Chattanooga Police responded to a person shot on the 6000 block of Arlena Circle at 4:40 a.m. Upon arrival, police located the victim, Edward Greatheart, 41,  who was suffering from a non-life threatening gunshot wound.   Mr. Greatheart was treated on the scene and transported to a local hospital ... (click for more)

Life For Our Ancestors In 1890

May 26-27 is the 1890’s Day Jamboree in Ringgold. I encourage any reader to attend and enjoy that wonderful community. I love having grown up in Northwest Georgia and celebrating our veterans, including both of my grandfathers who served in WWII.  But I also want to describe how the 1890’s were for my ancestors, living here in a singularly turbulent time. Based on, among ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Governor Haslam, Please!

AN OPEN LETTER TO GOV. BILL HASLAM … Greetings to you, my friend. You know with one more year on the course we have sailed during your two terms as the leader of our state you will go down as one of the greatest governors we have ever had. It stands to reason you eye Lamar Alexander’s Senate seat, but whatever you do it will be hard to replicate your service to Tennessee and ... (click for more)