Guilty Even If Attorney is Incompetent or a Liar

Both Vox and Crooks and Liars had an article up on this issue. As did SCOTUS Blog.

Not an attorney; but, I can tell you all the fun we had with a liar for an attorney, who took $10,000, lied to the court, had exparte conversation in judge’s chambers, was responsible for the death of a person from drugs in his apartment his mule picked up for him from dealers. Thats another story and maybe sometime I will talk about it.

This is an interesting comment by Justice Clarence Thomas:

Thomas stated that the Supreme Court has ‘discretion to forgive any forfeiture’ and because deciding the issue would reduce the likelihood of future litigation, ‘we choose to forgive the State’s forfeiture before the District Court.’

Just to get to Federal Court from the state court(s) a defendant must raise all issues in a state court which they will present in Federal Court. If they do not, it is inadmissible in Federal Court. We can thank Bill Clinton for signing the AEDPA bill for this.

The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (A.E.D.P.A.) is surely one of the worst statutes ever passed by Congress and signed into law by a President. The heart of the law is a provision saying that, even when a state court misapplies the Constitution, a defendant cannot necessarily have his day in federal court. Instead, he must prove that the state court’s decision was “contrary to” what the Supreme Court has determined is “clearly established federal law,” or that the decision was “an unreasonable application of” it.

What Thomas is saying, is; “Even though the state violated your constitutional rights, we do not have to hear it even if you raised this issue in state court. We can forgive the state’s failure to do so.” wink-wink.” Especially if excusing the issue would reduce the likelihood of future litigation, “we choose to forgive the State’s forfeiture before the District Court.” In other words, I do not want to hear of your rights as a citizen. This opens up a whole new venue.

May 24, 2024; “Sotomayor Blasts SCOTUS Colleagues For ‘Perverse, Illogical’ Ruling” or the “Conservative majority hollows out precedent on ineffective-counsel claims in federal court.” The court, 6-3, ruled federal judges cannot hear new evidence from death row inmates arguing that their state-appointed lawyers did not provide constitutionally adequate defense.

The upshot of this decision: If the state appoints you a lawyer who is constitutionally ineffective at your trial; and then appoints you ANOTHER lawyer who is constitutionally ineffective to argue your trial lawyer was ineffective … you’re screwed. People raising this is;  Barry Jones, one of the petitioners in this case whose conviction came after shoddy police work and inadequate defense. David Ramirez, the second petitioner, is severely mentally disabled. That fact was never raised by his defense attorney, even though federal law would exempt Ramirez from the death penalty.

The state’s (AZ) argument: “it does not matter if the prisoner is actually innocent, as the lower courts found in the case of Barry Lee Jones. If Jones ‘failed to develop’ the evidence of his trial lawyer’s ineffectiveness in state court, the federal courts are powerless to alter his conviction and death sentence.”

Don’tcha wonder how these guys sleep at night?

“John Roberts in Trevino v. Thaler, a case applying Martinez, argued the scope of Martinez was uniquely narrow. Roberts cited the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent from Martinez itself (which he joined) predicting the decision would put a significant strain on state resources.”

Lets just shoot him and get it over with, I have a Tee Off time two hours from now. Get my drift?

“On this front, Thomas bemoaned the ‘sprawling evidentiary hearing’ held by the district court in Barry Lee Jones’ case, which involved 10 witnesses, including various investigators and forensic pathologists who did not testify at trial. “This wholesale relitigation of Jones’ guilt,’ he wrote, ‘is plainly not what Martinez  envisioned.”

Welcome to the club of having to work when you don’t want to work.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. Calling the majority opinion “perverse,” “illogical,” and saying it “makes no sense.” The decision all but overrules two recent precedents” and “guts Martinez’s and Trevino’s core reasoning.” (This criticism was echoed by Robert Loeb, the defendants’ counsel, who in a written statement said, “today’s decision guts Martinez and renders the review promised by the Court [less than ten years ago] meaningless.”)

A defendant represented by a constitutionally ineffective lawyer cannot be held to be “at fault” for his lawyer’s errors.  “A petitioner cannot logically be faultless for not bringing a claim because of postconviction counsel’s ineffectiveness, yet at fault for not developing its evidentiary basis for exactly the same reason.”

In dissent, “The Sixth Amendment guarantees criminal defendants the right to the effective assistance of counsel at trial. This Court [in Martinez] has recognized that right as ‘a bedrock principle’ that constitutes the very ‘foundation for our adversary system’ of criminal justice. Today the Court hamstrings the federal courts’ authority to safeguard that right. The Court’s decision will leave many people who were convicted in violation of the Sixth Amendment to face incarceration or even execution without any meaningful chance to vindicate their right to counsel.”

Thomas does not care . . . I think one commenter on AB may have a point. The overthrow of the nation’s government may come though SCOTUS.