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Punching Your Lawyer Never Helps

Punching Your Lawyer Never HelpsSome would say that you haven’t lived until you’ve been punched in the face. Well, then let me continue “not living”….But if you feel the urge to punch “someone” in the face, maybe it shouldn’t be the same person that is defending your life. Just a suggestion.

Our case de jour is Jones v. State, 36 F.L.W. D1980 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011). Jones was sentenced to life in prison for sexual battery against a six year old girl. Naturally, Jones blamed his lawyer for the sentence, and filed a 3.850 ineffective assistance of counsel claim against him. The beauty of a 3.850 claim is that, if granted, the sentence is overturned and the case starts over. Actually, the court hearing Jone’s motion had noted that Jones filed “excessive postconviction motions” and “raised many repetitive, meritless, and frivolous claims.” Id. One such claim was the fact that, if the defendant had testified at trial, “he would have testified regarding a sexually-transmitted disease he had acquired in the past and that the victim would have gotten this disease if he had committed the acts.” Id.

Jones tried to fire his appointed lawyer in the middle of the hearing, but was denied. So, the defendant “summoned his postconviction counsel to his side under the pretense that he wanted to speak with him. Appellant then struck counsel in the face with a closed fist. Appellant was subdued by deputies and removed from the courtroom. The evidentiary hearing proceeded with his court-appointed postconviction counsel and without appellant.” Jones had a smart judge that was not falling for the courtroom antics.

So, believe it or not, Jones’ appeal claims that the court erred in removing him from the courtroom, plus the ineffectiveness of his postconviction counsel. But interestingly enough, once a defendant is “convicted” of a crime, that conviction is presumed valid. A 3.850 ineffective attorney motion is really a civil motion within a criminal court, and civil motions are not afforded “due process”, with the court noting that “the Sixth Amendment does not guarantee a right to the effective assistance of postconviction counsel”. (of course, there is a difference between non-capital postconviction claims and death sentence postconviction claims…)

(Did the defense lawyer press battery charges? I don’t know.)

Lesson of the day: When your last hope is arguing to overturn your life sentence, don’t punch him.

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