Ward v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: June 28, 2019
  • Case #: 18-7439
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: No. CR 13-138 (E.D. La. 2017)
  • Full Text Opinion

1. Does erroneous advice from trial counsel as stated herein constitute ‘Ineffective assistance of counsel’?” 2. Did the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals abuse its discretion by not granting Petitioner an evidentiary hearing for Petitioner’s allegation that Petitioner received erroneous advice from trial counsel on the plea phase of trial?

Petitioner was charged in 2013 with possession and intent to distribute an illegal drug. During proceedings, Petitioner’s motion to suppress was denied. Petitioner contends that his counsel erroneously informed him that his right to appeal the suppression hearing decision would be preserved if Petitioner agreed to an unconditional plea. The district court later denied Petitioner’s motion to vacate. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Petitioner’s subsequent Certificate of Appealability motion. Citing Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52 (1985), Petitioner argues the misguided direction by his trial attorney resulted in a deprivation of his right to effective assistance of counsel. Petitioner noted that the elements outlined in Cockrell are satisfied in his case, as the trial counsel’s assistance fell below “an objective standard of reasonableness”, therefore affecting the outcome of the plea proceedings, and that Petitioner was unable to provide an informed choice of plea due to the misinformation provided by counsel. Additionally, the Solicitor General’s Office for the U.S. Department of Justice issued a memorandum to the Supreme Court in which it stated upon remand, the government would consent to an evidentiary hearing on the performance of trial counsel. The Court issued summary disposition, with orders for further consideration in light of the position asserted by the Solicitor General in his letter for the United States. VACATED and REMANDED.

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