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Pro Bono Defendant Entitled to Hearing on Claim of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

9 March 2015
Mayer Brown secured an important victory on behalf of a pro bono client in the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In a unanimous opinion, the court reaffirmed that lawyers have a responsibility to consult with their criminal clients about filing appeals, even when the conviction arises out of a guilty plea.

Our client, Mr. G, pled guilty to a crime and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. According to Mr. G, he asked his lawyer to file an appeal, but the lawyer failed to file it, or even consult with him about appealing. Mr. G unsuccessfully sought habeas corpus in the state trial court and the US district court.

Mayer Brown associate Christopher Ford was appointed by the Fourth Circuit to represent Mr. G. In his first appellate argument, Christopher convinced the court that Mr. G had adequately presented his claims to the state habeas court to justify federal review, and to reverse the district court’s denial of an evidentiary hearing. The court directed the district court to reexamine Mr. G’s claim that his trial lawyer failed to file or consult with him about an appeal, as he was required to do by law.
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