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7th Circuit orders new defense counsel

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In an order handed down late Monday afternoon, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals relieved a court-appointed defense counsel from representing his client and will appoint new counsel in a future order.

In United States of America v. Shaaban Hafiz Ahmad Ali Shaaban, No. 06-2801, Shaaban had been convicted in the Southern District of Indiana of various offenses related to trying to sell the names of CIA agents working covertly in Iraq to the Iraqi Intelligence Service. Shaaban was sentenced to 160 months in prison.

He appealed, but his appointed counsel sought to withdraw because he believed any issue raised on appeal would be frivolous. The 7th Circuit Court denied the motion and ordered counsel to address whether the District Court miscalculated the guideline range to sentence Shaaban.

Just before the 7th Circuit affirmed the sentence, the defense counsel sent a letter to Shaaban stating if the appeal was denied, the counsel would "argue for a rehearing and the appeal would not be final until rehearing were denied." Shaaban received another letter from his counsel just after the deadline to file a petition for rehearing lapsed, saying his sentence had been affirmed, but counsel made no mention of filing for a rehearing.

Shaaban filed a motion to recall the mandate because he believed his attorney did not follow through on his promise to file a rehearing request and Shaaban should be allowed to file one, even though the deadline had passed.

The appointed counsel was ordered to respond to the motion and stated he believed the affirmation and decision of the 7th Circuit on the case left him with only a frivolous appeal. He conceded he erred in not explaining to Shaaban his reasons for not filing for a rehearing and would file a petition for rehearing if the court deemed it necessary.

But the federal appellate court relieved the appointed counsel of his duties, finding he failed to communicate with Shaaban and already formed an opinion that the petition for rehearing was not necessary. In order to ensure full protection of Shaaban's right to counsel, new counsel will be appointed in a separate order, wrote Judge Kenneth Ripple. The newly appointed counsel shall file either a petition for rehearing or a motion to withdraw on the ground that any such petition would be frivolous and must do so within 30 days of appointment.

If the new counsel wants to withdraw because no nonfrivolous issue can be raised in a petition for rehearing, then Shaaban can file a response pursuant to 7th Circuit Rule 51(b).

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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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