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Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

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Case:  Marty Holland v. State of Tennessee

Facts:  Petitioner pled guilty and received a sentence ordered to run concurrently to an ongoing federal sentence. Nothing was presented at sentencing regarding his federal sentence. Petitioner sought post-conviction relief on the basis that his attorney had failed to investigate three matters related to his case. The court denied relief.

Appellate Decision:  The intermediate court affirmed the denial of post-conviction of relief, but remanded for a hearing “to determine whether the Petitioner was advised of the consequences of entering a guilty plea based upon the agreement that his state sentence be served concurrently with a prior federal sentence.” The court noted that federal sentences may only be made concurrent with state sentences upon action by the federal Bureau of Prisons and warned of the “pitfalls” of attempting to craft such a result. The court further observed that nothing in the record contained any information about the federal sentence or a designation from the Bureau of Prisons of its agreement to allow a concurrent sentence. The State sought Rule 11 review of the remand.

Review Granted:  August 21, 2019.

Prediction:  Ben thinks the supreme court will reverse the order remanding the case because the issue was apparently not raised by the petitioner. The intermediate court appears to have identified a significant issue that may well constitute ineffective assistance of counsel, including profound prejudice to the Petitioner. However, our supreme court has recently strictly construed post-conviction relief against petitioners. See Cordarius Maxwell v. State, W2018-00318-SC-R11-PC (Tenn. Sept. 3, 2019) (summary per curiam decision dismissing post-conviction case because attorney failed to ensure petition had been properly verified before filing).