Thursday, May 21, 2015
In 2001, the Court of Appeals of Maryland Rejected the Same Argument Made Against Adnan Syed's IAC Claim
Last week, I noted how the Maryland Attorney General cited one case in its Brief of Appellee in opposition to the claim that Adnan Syed received the ineffective assistance of counsel based upon his trial attorney's failure to contact potential alibi witness Asia McClain. That case was State v. Lloyd, 48 Md.App. 535, 540 (Md.App. 1981), and I noted in my post that Lloyd was (1) repudiated by the the Court of Appeals of Maryland in State v. Tichnell, 509 A.2d 1179 (Md. 1986); and (2) inapposite because the defendant in Lloyd confessed to the crime charged, meaning that calling an alibi witness would be suborning perjury.
The Brief of Appellee led me to wonder whether the Maryland Attorney General had cited any additional precedent in opposing a similar ineffective assistance of counsel claim raised by the defendant in In re Parris W., 770 A.2d 202 (Md. 2001). That led me to the Brief of Appellee in that case.
Here's the relevant discussion of the issue in the Brief of Appellee in In re Parris W.:
Parris W. is wrong when he asserts that his counsel's failure to subpoena alibi witnesses constitutes, in and of itself, plainly ineffective representation. In State v. Lloyd, 48 Md. App. 535,... this Court held that counsel did not render ineffective assistance by refusing to call alibi witnesses, considering that, in that case, his client confessed his criminal agency to him before trial. This Court stated:
Although the failure to call alibi witnesses presents a ground on which relief may be granted for ineffective assistance of counsel, the decision whether to call a witness is ordinarily a matter of trial tactics within the discretion of defense counsel. Id. at 540....
However, inadequate representation is not established by a mere showing that defense counsel has failed to interview and call all witnesses:
In order to prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must establish that he acted with diligence in supplying the names and addresses of alibi witnesses, and that alibi testimony would have been beneficial to his or her case. Id. at 541.
Yes, that's right, fourteen years ago, the Maryland Attorney General's Office tried to rely upon the same repudiated case in which the court only found effective assistance based upon the defendant's confession. Of course, the Court of Appeals of Maryland in In re Parris W. didn't cite to Lloyd in its opinion granting the defendant relief; instead, it cited to Griffin v. Warden, Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center, 970 F.2d 1355 (4th Cir. 1992), and all of the other cases cited by Adnan's attorney in support of his ineffective assistance of counsel claim.
And now, here we are, fourteen years later, and the Maryland Attorney General's Office still can't find a better case to oppose the simple proposition that failure to contact an alibi witness is ineffective assistance.