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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. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  2. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

  3. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  4. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  5. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

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