Friday, August 24, 2012

Supreme Court hints it may expand recent ruling on ineffective assistance of counsel

Lyle Denniston of the SCotUS blog is reporting that last Wednesday the Supreme Court "strongly hinted that one of last Term’s key rulings on the duties of criminal defense lawyers may get a prompt new look next Term, to see if it applies to death-penalty cases in Texas."  In a brief order, the Court put on hold an execution in Texas in a case that appears to be a major test of the impact of the Court’s 7-2 ruling last March in Martinez v. Ryan.  Go here for the full article (with links to the cases).

In Martinez, the Court created an exception to prior rulings that had strictly limited a convicted individual’s right to complain that a defense lawyer had not performed effectively at the trial holding that if a state did not allow an individual to raise that kind of claim until after the conviction has become final, a federal court can still decide the claim.  The new case will test whether and how Martinez applies to capital cases.

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