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

Wednesday, June 05, 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.)



Ellie's Fine Lingerie Recognized For "Best Interior Design"

Ellie’s Fine Lingerie in Warehouse Row was awarded top honors at the Best of Intima Awards held earlier this month in New York, N.Y. by Intima Magazine. It is the premium lingerie and beachwear publication for the U.S. and Canada. The Best of Intima Awards jury was comprised of 20 high-end brands responsible for nominating and selecting award-worthy retailers. This year’s jury selected ... (click for more)

New And Used Vehicle Sales Drop In August

New vehicle sales in Hamilton County dropped to 1,025 in August, and used vehicle sales dropped to 3,315, according to figures from the County Clerk's office. That compares to 1,031 new vehicles and 3,491 used vehicles the previous August. Totals for August included 430 new cars and 595 new trucks sold. They included 1,754 used cars and 1,561 used trucks sold. (click for more)

Rhasean Lowry, 34, Charged In Death of 3-Year-Old Girl

Rhasean Lowry, 34, was arrested for abusing a three-year-old girl, and then criminal homicide after she died. Last Tuesday, the Chattanooga Police Department was called on a suspected child abuse case. Lowry took the victim to a local hospital and he stated the victim fell down steps. Doctors advised that the victim’s injuries were the result of blunt force trauma consistent ... (click for more)

City IDB Member Who Made Motion For $9 Million Black Creek TIF Had Not Lived In City For Years

A City Industrial Development Board (IDB) member who made the motion to approve a controversial $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) had not lived in the city for years, City Attorney Wade Hinton confirmed. Chris Ramsey, a BlueCross BlueShield official, was not present at an IDB meeting on Tuesday morning. Five other board members were. Citizen Helen Burns ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)