Friday, May 21, 2010

May 18: No Luck Fishing for a Better Sentence


Appeal by the Government of grant of a new-trial motion


In a case that the Circuit Court referred to as "ineffective assistance of counsel light," the District Court’s grant of the new-trial motion was reversed and the conviction affirmed. The Circuit Court chose not to deal with the question of ineffective assistance light and decided the issue on strict Strickland grounds. It decided to leave the question of "ineffectiveness light" to another day.

Without going through every claimed item of ineffectiveness, it will suffice to say that trial counsel’s actions were found justified by the Circuit Court. The defendant’s arguments were undercut by the fact that neither trial counsel nor the defendant testified at the hearing. One suspects that the issue of ineffectiveness, light or otherwise, will be back another day. The invitation seems open.



Direct Appeal

Unpublished (very short opinion)

The Circuit Court found that the Defendant knowingly pleaded guilty to the drug charges in return for a promise by the prosecution to file a motion for the sentence to be below the 20-year mandatory minimum under 3553(e)---substantial assistance. The defendant’s 17-year sentence was given as a result of the motion. The defendant was found to have waived any argument that the sentence was unreasonable under the 3553(a) factors given the mandatory minimum.

The Circuit Court also found that the Defendant waived his right to contest the issue that a pardoned conviction could not be used to subject him to an enhanced penalty under § 841(b)(1)(A).

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