Friday, June 22, 2007

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel -- The Supreme Court's ruling on when and where the claims must be litigated

These are excerpts from Massaro v. United States, Supreme Court Decision 1993, bod and underlining added for emphasis.

Petitioner now urges us to hold that claims of ineffective assistance of counsel need not be raised on direct appeal, whether or not there is new counsel and whether or not the basis for the claim is apparent from the trial record. The Federal Courts of Appeals are in conflict on this question, with the Seventh Circuit joining the Second Circuit, see Guinan v. United States, 6 F.3d 468 (CA7 1993), and 10 other Federal Courts of Appeals taking the position that there is no procedural default for failure to raise an ineffective-assistance claim on direct appeal.
Under the rule we adopt today, ineffective-assistance claims ordinarily will be litigated in the first instance in the district court, the forum best suited to developing the facts necessary to determining the adequacy of representation during an entire trial. The court may take testimony from witnesses for the defendant and the prosecution and from the counsel alleged to have rendered the deficient performance. See, e.g., Griffin, supra, at 1109 (In a §2255 proceeding, the defendant “has a full opportunity to prove facts establishing ineffectiveness of counsel, the government has a full opportunity to present evidence to the contrary, the district court hears spoken words we can see only in print and sees expressions we will never see, and a factual record bearing precisely on the issue is created”); Beaulieu v. United States, 930 F.2d 805 (CA10 1991) (partially rev’d on other grounds United States v. Galloway, supra). In addition, the §2255 motion often will be ruled upon by the same district judge who presided at trial. The judge, having observed the earlier trial, should have an advantageous perspective for determining the effectiveness of counsel’s conduct and whether any deficiencies were prejudicial.
We do hold that failure to raise an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim on direct appeal does not bar the claim from being brought in a later, appropriate proceeding under §2255.

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