American Bar Association
Media Alerts
Media Alerts - Sophia Daire v. Mary Lattimore, Warden - Ninth Circuit en banc
Decrease font size
Increase font size
March 16, 2016
  Sophia Daire v. Mary Lattimore, Warden - Ninth Circuit en banc
Headline: Ninth Circuit en banc overruled its own precedent and established that the standard for determining when a criminal defendant's Sixth Amendment right to counsel is violated by ineffective counsel is governed by Strickland v. Washington (1984) 466 U.S. 668 in non-capital sentencing proceedings.

Area of Law: Criminal Law; Claims for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel in Noncapital Sentencing Proceedings

Issue Presented: Notwithstanding preexisting Ninth Circuit precedent to the contrary, does Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 694 (1984), govern claims for ineffective assistance of counsel in noncapital sentencing proceedings?

Significance: It is clearly established that Strickland v. Washington governs claims for ineffective counsel, even in noncapital sentencing proceedings.

Brief Summary: While serving a 40 year "three strikes" prison sentence after a conviction for first degree burglary, defendant Daire filed a writ of habeas corpus. She claimed her attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel during sentencing under the standard articulated in Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687.

On federal habeas review, the district court held, according to Ninth Circuit precedent, that the application of the Strickland standard to noncapital sentencing proceedings was not "clearly established Federal law" for purposes of 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254(d)(1). The statute provides that an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Ninth Circuit panel voted to rehear the case en banc to reconsider circuit precedent. It remanded the case back to the three-judge panel to apply the standard articulated in Strickland and overruled Cooper - Smith v. Palmateer, 397 F.3d 1236, Davis v. Grigas, 443 F.3d 1155 and other similar contrary decisions.

Extended Summary: After defendant was convicted by a California jury of first degree burglary, she claimed that her attorney, during sentencing, provided ineffective assistance of counsel under the standard articulated in Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687.

The Ninth Circuit voted to rehear this case en banc to reconsider Ninth Circuit precedent holding that there was no "clearly established" federal law on the question of whether Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 694 (1984), governs claims for ineffective assistance of counsel in noncapital sentencing proceedings. See Cooper-Smith v. Palmateer, 397 F.3d 1236, 1244 (9th Cir. 2005) and Davis v. Grigas, 443 F.3d 1155, 1158 (9th Cir. 2006).

The panel had held that it was bound by Cooper-Smith v. Palmateer, 397 F.3d 1236, 1244 (9th Cir. 2005), which held that, "[s]ince Strickland, the Supreme Court has not decided what standard should apply to ineffective assistance of counsel claims in the noncapital sentencing context. Consequently, there is no clearly established law in this context. Because the Supreme Court has not clearly established what constitutes ineffective assistance in this context, other courts are free to do so."

Before Cooper, the United States Supreme Court applied Strickland to a noncapital sentencing proceeding in Glover v. United States, (2001) 531 U.S. 198. Furthermore, in Lafler v. Cooper (2012) 132 S.Ct. 1376, 1388, the Supreme Court ruled that Glover established that there exists a right to counsel during sentencing in noncapital cases. Even though sentencing does not concern the defendant's guilt or innocence, ineffective assistance of counsel during a sentencing hearing can result in Strickland prejudice because "any amount of additional jail time has Sixth Amendment significance."

Accordingly, the Ninth Circuit en banc overruled its prior precedent and remanded to the panel that heard the appeal.

To read the full opinion, please visit:
https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2016/02/09/12-55667.pdf

Panel: Sidney R. Thomas, Chief Judge, Stephen Reinhardt, M. Margaret McKeown, Richard C. Tallman, Johnnie B. Rawlinson, Jay S. Bybee, Consuelo M. Callahan, Carlos T. Bea, N. Randy Smith, Mary H. Murguia and Paul J. Watford, Circuit Judges

Argument Date: The en banc court unanimously concluded the case was suitable for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. App. P. 34(a)(2).

Date of Issued Opinion: February 9, 2016

Docket Number: 12-55667

Decided: January 12, 2016

Case Alert Author: Mia Lomedico

Counsel:
Sara J. O'Connell, Covington & Burling LLP, San Diego, California, for Petitioner-Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General of California; Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General; Lance E. Winters, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Kenneth C. Byrne, Supervising Deputy Attorney General; Xiomara Costello, Deputy Attorney General, Los Angeles, California, for Respondent-Appellee.

Author of Opinion: Per Curiam

Circuit: Ninth
Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Professor Glenn Koppel

    Posted By: Glenn Koppel @ 03/16/2016 06:19 PM     9th Circuit  

FuseTalk Enterprise Edition - © 1999-2018 FuseTalk Inc. All rights reserved.

Discussion Board Usage Agreement

Back to Top