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7th Circuit reaffirms drug conviction over claims of ineffective counsel

May 7, 2013

A man convicted of federal drug charges failed to convince a panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that his conviction should be vacated due to ineffective assistance of counsel. The court affirmed a conviction from the District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

Circuit Judge Richard Posner wrote for the court that Jose Loera Jr. didn’t show his attorney was ineffective in Jose J. Loera, Jr. v. United States of America, 11-3223. “Loera faults his lawyer first for having failed to argue … that the denial of the motion to suppress in the first round of the criminal proceeding should be binding in the second round — the trial — by virtue of the doctrine of collateral estoppel,” Posner wrote. The government had not objected to the motion to suppress initially, the panel noted, so the judge hadn’t reached the merits.

“The doctrine of collateral estoppel was not applicable in this case, and so Loera’s lawyer can’t be faulted for not having invoked it,” Posner wrote. “Not every ruling has collateral estoppel effect in a subsequent proceeding in which the issue resolved by the ruling pops up again. Considering the number of rulings that a judge is apt to make in a case, whether civil or criminal, we worry that to give every ruling collateral estoppel effect would make the doctrine proliferate excessively.

“As in this case, many trial rulings are made casually, with little attention to the merits of the issue ruled on and in this case probably no attention, since the nonmoving party had not opposed the motion that precipitated the ruling.”

Loera also failed to prevail on his claim that his right to speedy trial was violated.

 

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