Monday, March 12, 2012

IL court of appeals issues two opinions on ineffective assistance of counsel

Earlier today, the Illinois court of appeals issued two opinions on ineffective assistance of counsel.  In the first one, People v. Watson, the court reversed the defendant's conviction for residential burglary because the defendant’s trial counsel was ineffective in failing to cross-examine the State’s DNA expert or present evidence that the partial profile should be considered a “nonmatch,” failing to present expert testimony that the statistical calculations relied on by the State were flawed, and failing to understand the DNA evidence or ensure that it was properly explained to the jury.  Interestingly, (and sadly) the court also noted that the defendant's posttrial counsel was also ineffective in only filing a notice of appeal without filing any postsentencing motions.  The court remanded for a new trial with new counsel.

In the second case, People v. Remsik-Miller, the defendant was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison.The defendant then filed and argued a post conviction motion pro se in which she argued that her attorney "did not represent her to his fullestability during [her] trial.”  The motion was denied, but the court of appeals remanded. The court decided that before deciding the motion it would have to be determined  whether defendant’s comment —that defense counsel did not represent her “to his fullest ability during [her] trial”—amounted to an allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel which would have triggered the lower court’s duty to inquire.  For this reason, the court of appeals remanded "for the limited purpose of allowing the trial court to conduct the necessary preliminary examination as to the factual basis of defendant’s allegation."

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