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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. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  2. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  3. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  4. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

  5. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

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