The State Post-Conviction Process. What Issues Are Raised:

Jan. 26, 2022

In our last entry, we examined the general parameters of the State post-conviction process. In this entry, we will summarize what issues post-conviction lawyers look to raise most, when crafting Arizona Rule 32 or Arizona Rule 33 motions.

Most post-conviction attorneys comb the files and transcripts of a criminal case to ferret out "ineffective assistance of counsel" claims. These are allegations lodged by the convicted client, who contends that his or her trial (or guilty-plea) counsel made poor decisions and other errors during their involvement in the case.

The most famous precedent establishing this standard for evaluating "whether trial counsel was competent" is Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984). The Strickland case sets forth a two-part test: (1) Did counsel perform deficiently, i.e., make errors other lawyers in the community would not have made? (2) Did those errors affect the outcome of the trial or the sentence? Both parts of the test must be satisfied in order for an inmate to be entitled to post-conviction relief.

The fact that a defendant followed his attorney’s advice to plead guilty does not circumvent or negate the Strickland test. If counsel's bad advice was so poor as to render the guilty plea "unknowing or involuntary," then relief can also be granted.

Defense counsel’s strategic decisions are usually accorded great deference, but only if they are made after a thorough investigation. The failure to pursue even a single piece of important evidence, however, may demonstrate ineffectiveness and prejudice sufficient to warrant a new trial.

Just how the Strickland test may apply to your case, or that of a loved one, is a complex analysis. Do not hesitate. There are time deadlines limiting when these claims can be raised. If you wish to learn more about the process now, please call this office immediately.

Jonathan Laurans wants you to be educated as to what you may be facing. If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime in Arizona, or in any federal court, contact him immediately. Visit his website at www.azpostconviction.com and then call him at (833) 421-5200 for a FREE initial legal consultation.