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October 4, 2011

SCOTUS hearing three criminal procedure cases today

Lots of criminal procedure on the docket for the Supreme Court on this the first Tuesday in October.   Via SCOTUSblog, here are the basics:

10-63 Maples v. Thomas:  Whether the Eleventh Circuit properly held that there was no cause to excuse any procedural default where petitioner was blameless for the default, the state's own conduct contributed to the default, and petitioner's attorneys of record were no longer functioning as his agents at the time of any default.

10-680 Howes v. Fields:  Whether this Court's clearly established precedent under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 holds that a prisoner is always "in custody" for purposes of Miranda any time that prisoner is isolated from the general prison population and questioned about conduct occurring outside the prison regardless of the surrounding circumstances.

10-1001 Martinez v. Ryan:  Whether a defendant in a state criminal case who is prohibited by state law from raising on direct appeal any claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, but who has a state-law right to raise such a claim in a first post-conviction proceeding, has a federal constitutional right to effective assistance of first post-conviction counsel specifically with respect to his ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel claim.

The Maples case seems likely to generate the most media attention, in large part because it is a capital case.  But I think the Martinez case is the most important and potentially the most consequential of this trio.

UPDATE:  The folks at SCOTUSblog now provide links to all the oral argument transcripts in these three cases via this new post.

October 4, 2011 at 09:48 AM | Permalink


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Question for the audience: SCOTUS has held that ineffective assistance of counsel does not have to be litigated on direct appeal, and that the better practice is to litigate it on a motion to vacate. Massaro v. U.S. That court also concluded that ineffective assistance of counsel claims may be brought on direct appeal. Id.

How can a state therefore bar a litigant from bringing an ineffectiva assistance of counsel claim on direct appeal? I understand the logic behind why it is better to bring the claim on a motion to vacate, but, there are certainly mistakes that are evident from the trial record such that a record need not be developed independently to bring a successful ineffective assistance of counsel claim.


Posted by: = | Oct 4, 2011 9:37:49 PM

Ineffective counsel is a harmless error unless the verdict is incorrect. All appellants should be asked to prove innocence before proceeding on ineffective assistance. Then, they must show an intent or actual filing for lawyer malpractice. Otherwise, the claim of ineffective counsel is a pretext, and unprofessional conduct by the appellate advocate. All flimsy procedural claims not addressing a mistaken verdict are attempts to fool the court, and should be punished with civil contempt charges.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 6, 2011 6:40:19 AM

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