August 17, 2007
Let's Take A Deal
A defendant convicted of first-degree premeditated murder was sentenced to life without possibility of release. The conviction was affirmed on appeal. After his post-conviction claim of ineffective assistance of counsel was rejected by the trial court without a hearing, he appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
The court held that the claim that appellate counsel failed to raise ineffective assistance on direct appeal required an evidentiary hearing. The defendant was offered a plea deal during trial. He claimed that "his counsel misled him into believing that under the worst case scenerio, if convicted, he would be eligible for release after 30 years..." The court concluded that "inaccurate or misleading factual statements" that lead a defendant to reject a plea offer can constitute ineffective assistance of counsel. The case was remanded for a hearing to determine whether appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to raise the claim. If the trial court so holds, the defendant will get the deal. (Mike Frisch)
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