Ineffective Habeas Corpus Counsel

by Rick Wetzel on August 19, 2011

There are severe statutory limits on the ability to file multiple habeas corpus applications in both state and federal courts. An applicant has essentially one chance to make his best case for relief on habeas corpus.   That one chance should be used wisely or a valuable right and remedy will be wasted. Absent exceptional circumstances, there will be no second chance to seek federal or Texas habeas corpus relief.


Many states, including Texas, designate post-conviction proceedings as the preferred or mandatory forum for litigating an ineffective of assistance of trial counsel claim for the first time. The record from a direct appeal will rarely provide a basis upon which a court can rule on a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel.

Under the current state of the law, there is no constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel in habeas corpus proceedings. You are not entitled to seek habeas relief a second time simply because your first habeas corpus lawyer missed, overlooked, or ignored an issue which could have resulted in relief.

A legitimate argument is that a defendant’s fair trial right isn’t protected if he receives ineffective assistance of counsel at the trial stage and again at his first opportunity to raise the claim. Such an argument is now pending before the Supreme Court in a case from Arizona.

Martinez v. Ryan

Luis Mariano Martinez was convicted of sexual contact with a minor in Arizona. His trial lawyer failed to object to inaccurate testimony by a prosecution expert about the reasons for victim recantations. His habeas corpus lawyer filed a notice of post-conviction relief saying she could find no colorable claims, and she didn’t tell him about the filing or his need to file a pro se petition within 45 days.

The efforts by Martinez to seek habeas relief have met with little success because his first habeas corpus lawyer failed to present the claim in a timely and appropriate manner. The Supreme Court has agreed to review this catch-22 in the law in Martinez v. Ryan. The case has appropriately been called a big deal in habeas corpus law. The bottom line is that when selecting a habeas corpus lawyer, be sure he or she knows what they are doing.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz

Related posts:

  1. Difference Between Habeas Corpus and Criminal Appeal

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: