empirical study, approximately 0.3% of non-capital habeas petitions are successful. On Tuesday, Vonlee Titlow, a prisoner incarcerated at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, joined this exclusive club. In Titlow v. Burt (10-2488), Judges Gilman and Clay (with Judge Batchelder dissenting) found that Titlow's attorney had been constitutionally ineffective and granted the writ.
Michigan charged Titlow with second-degree murder in 2000. Titlow's first lawyer negotiated a plea agreement for a 7-to-15 year sentence. Titlow's second attorney, however, advised Titlow to withdraw the plea agreement and go to trial. This attorney totally failed to investigate the case before giving said advise. A jury convicted Titlow and she was sentenced to 20-to-40 years. A majority of the panel found this to constitute ineffective assistance under Strickland. Judge Batchelder did not think that the attorney had been the primary cause of Titlow undoing the plea, and so dissented.