Foley Hoag Wins Criminal Appeal for Client Who Received Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

June 04, 2015

Foley Hoag LLP recently secured a victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which vacated the criminal convictions of a client serving an eleven-year criminal sentence.

Attorneys Daniel Marx, Michele Adelman and Shrutih Tewarie, along with paralegal Judy Gallant and former colleague Robin Toone, persuaded a three-judge panel that the firm’s client had received ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of his Sixth Amendment rights, because his trial counsel failed to move to suppress statements that the client made to the police following his illegal arrest. Although Sixth Amendment claims rarely prevail on direct appeal, and typically must be raised much later on in a collateral proceeding, the First Circuit concluded that this appeal presented “an exceptional case,” warranting a new trial with competent defense counsel.

The First Circuit also addressed sentencing errors committed by the district court, including improperly punishing the firm’s client based upon the erroneous finding that he had been “untruthful” during his sentencing hearing. Emphasizing that the client had only limited knowledge of English, the appeals court held that any inaccuracies in his statements during his sentencing hearing were likely the result of inadvertent miscommunication rather than intentional dishonesty. The First Circuit admonished sentencing courts to “exercise great caution before penalizing a defendant with limited proficiency in English based on arguably ambiguous statements.”