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7th Circuit: Defendant’s counsel not ineffective

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday declined to find that a defendant’s appointed attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel requiring the court to vacate or correct his 20-year sentence.

Devon Groves received 120 months each on a count of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition by a felon, with the sentences running consecutively. He filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 2255, but the District Court denied the motion.

Groves claimed his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to object to the presentence investigation report’s characterization of his 1995 burglary conviction as a crime of violence and because his attorney failed to fulfill Groves’ intention to plead guilty.

Groves had three appointed attorneys – H. Jay Stevens, Anthony Kowals and Brian J. May. During the time Kowals represented Groves, he gave the defendant a copy of a plea agreement. Groves told Kowals he wanted to go to trial. Groves wrote a letter to the court saying he decided to plead guilty and signed the proposed agreement, but that signed agreement never reached Kowals or the court. Kowals withdrew, and May also noted that Groves always said he wanted to go to trial. He never found a signed plea agreement in Groves’ file.

In Devon Groves v. United States of America, 12-3253, the 7th Circuit noted that Groves was consistent in telling his attorneys that he wanted to go to trial and his letter to the court even said he wasn’t interested in a plea.

Regarding the characterization of his 1995 burglary conviction as a crime of violence, Groves argued that he pleaded guilty to Class C felony burglary of a building, not Class B felony burglary of a dwelling as charged in the information. The Class C felony is not considered a crime of violence.

The judges held counsel was not ineffective under Strickland. Later caselaw on whether a crime is a “crime of violence” for purposes of Section 4B1.2(a)(2) that may have provided a favorable ruling for Groves is not retroactive. They also noted that at sentencing, May successfully challenged two enhancements recommended in the PSR, thus reducing the advisory guideline calculations.
 

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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