I feel like there have been more habeas grants than COA's this calendar year in the district courts. I guess I probably should have kept better track. Nonetheless, assuming that feeling is correct, it just surprises me. There should be more COA's than grants. Kind of obvious, right? A COA is a lower standard than a habeas grant. But the DJ's have been pretty stingy this year with the COA's.
Setting that aside for a moment, for the second time this year, a DJ granted habeas and a COA in the same case! That's pretty remarkable. I guess it won't do anything to close the gap between COA's and grants this past year. Still pretty exciting though.
The name of the case is Cardoza v. Rock and the issue is IAC on the habeas grant and IAC/conflict of interest on the COA. More specifically, the court concluded that counsel was ineffective for failing to convey a plea offer to petitioner, who had been charged with participating in a drug conspiracy. Petitioner was found guilty after a trial and was sentenced to a longer sentence than the one that was available in the plea offer. The DJ ordered that the state court impose the sentence offered in the plea (since petitioner has sworn that he would have taken it had he known about it). As for the conflict of interest issue, petitioner argued that his counsel had a conflict for two reasons: (1) he represented two co-conspirators; and (2) the attorney himself may have been involved in the drug conspiracy. Crazy stuff.
One thing to note: as I discussed in my Supreme Court preview, the Court is going to hear two cases that raise these IAC issues - Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye (to be argued on 10/31). The Court could potentially conclude that this is not even a viable IAC claim or that the relief that the DJ ordered here is not an appropriate remedy. So those cases could have a huge impact here. Maybe I should have ranked those cases higher on the list of most interesting cases this term (they came in as number 4).
In any event, here are the details:
- Habeas Granted; COA Granted
- 08-CV-8210, 2011 WL 4472030 (SDNY Sept. 27, 2011) (PAC) (RLE)
- Issues: Habeas Grant: IAC based on counsel's failure to advise petitioner of plea offer; COA: IAC/conflict of interest based on allegations that attorney had participated in same drug conspiracy and had represented two co-conspirators
- Notes: Adopting R&R (available at 2010 WL 7597717)