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7th Circuit rejects ineffective trial assistance claim

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the denial of a defendant’s motion to vacate his guilty plea, claiming ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The judges found the record foreclosed any claim that the man’s attorney was constitutionally ineffective or that the man didn’t otherwise knowingly and voluntarily plead guilty.

Police received a tip that Andrew Koons had a stolen vehicle. Police went to his home, where the stolen car was parked, but Koons wasn’t home. A neighbor told police that Koons had participated in a firearms transaction with him. Police then went to Koons’ workplace, where Koons voluntarily offered to go home with the officers and retrieve the guns. He allowed the officers into his home to do so.

Koons was charged with being a felon in possession and at no point during his change-of-plea hearing or during his sentencing hearing did Koons dispute the evidence or testimony presented. After he was sentenced, Koons filed a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 2255 to vacate his conviction and sentencing, claiming his trial counsel was constitutionally deficient because he failed to investigate the potential Fourth Amendment claim Koons first brought up in this petition.

It wasn’t until his petition to vacate his conviction that Koons alleged the police told him at his workplace that they had a warrant to search his home and he had to return home and let them in. Koons also argued that the officer brandished a weapon when Koons expressed unwillingness.

The District Court denied the motion, and the 7th Circuit affirmed in Andrew C. Koons v. United States of America, No. 09-3025. They found no evidence that his attorney’s representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, as defined in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 686 (1984).

Except for his petition, the evidence unequivocally supports the government’s version of the events that Koons voluntarily consented to the search and had no viable Fourth Amendment claim. Koons never informed the court that the officer allegedly showed a weapon to coerce him into returning home, or claimed to have a warrant, wrote Judge Joel Flaum.

In fact, Koons’ petition is the first time on record that he raises those claims. He never informed his attorney of the facts giving rise to the alleged Fourth Amendment violation. The judges found the trial counsel’s investigation, which included meeting with Koons 17 times and interviewing witnesses that the government intended to call, was adequate.

The judges also affirmed the District Court’s denial of Koons’ motion for an evidentiary hearing.

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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