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.)

Chattanooga Attorney Selected For Leadership Program

Chattanooga attorney Jeffrey Maddux of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC has been selected to participate in the Tennessee Bar Association’s 2016 Leadership Law program.  Now in its 13th year, the Leadership Law program is designed to equip Tennessee lawyers with the vision, knowledge and skills necessary to serve as leaders in their profession and local communities. ... (click for more)

Dade Discount Days Kicks Off Dec. 5

The Greater Dade Business Owners Association (a non-profit organization) and the Dade County Chamber of Commerce announce Dade Discount Days is coming to Trenton Dec. 5-31 with the big kickoff on Saturday, Dec. 5, with a raffle of 1,000 gallons of gasoline for 99 cents per gallon.  Dade County High School is hosting “parents day out” from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. ... (click for more)

Monica McMillon, 37, Shot And Killed In Alton Park On Tuesday Night; 2 Shot On Holtzclaw Avenue

Monica McMillon, 37, was shot and killed in Alton Park on Tuesday night. Then several hours later, two people were shot on Holtzclaw Avenue. The Chattanooga Police responded to the 3800 block of Highland Ave. on the report of a shooting. Once on scene police located one victim inside a residence. She  was struck by gunfire and  succumbed to her injuries on ... (click for more)

Judge Denies Motion By Walker County To Delay Closing Of Hutcheson Hospital

A bankruptcy judge in Atlanta on Tuesday denied a motion by Walker County, Ga., is asking a delay in closing Hutcheson Medical Center and laying off employees. Judge Paul Bonapfel said he appreciated the position of Walker County, but he said he would not interfere with the business decision made by the trustees appointed to operate the Fort Oglethorpe hospital. He also said ... (click for more)

An Extra Helping Of Gratitude

After being thankful for the grace of God, my family and good health, this year I have an extra helping of gratitude to live in a special place called Chattanooga.   We endured the trauma of terrorism on July 16 and emerged more united and stronger than ever before.  We claim our heritage and celebrate our diversity like no other city in America.  We honor our ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Vote DesJarlais Out!

There are two good bills in both the Senate and the House of Representatives right now that are directly aimed at the sadistic villains who derive some sick pleasure out of torturing helpless Tennessee Walking Horses. They call it “soring,” where caustic materials are lathered into a horse’s forelegs and then wrapped in plastic so they’ll cook. Sometimes they use nails or screws ... (click for more)