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Let no good deed go unpunished

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Steve Vladeck has this Martinez v. Ryan argument recap at SCOTUSblog.  Vladek has the same impression I did that counsel for Martinez will not get a rule as broad as he was asking for.  He asks whether the Court might create a narrower rule.

At bottom, there seemed to be virtually no support among the Justices for any general rule supporting the right of defendants to counsel in collateral post-conviction proceedings for all claims that they were unable to raise at trial.*  Whether there might be five votes for a narrower rule requiring effective assistance of post-conviction counsel because of the fortuities of Arizona state law -- which mandates both the appointment of collateral post-conviction counsel and the funneling of ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims into those collateral proceedings -- remains to be seen.
* I think he means "raise on appeal" or "raise on the trial record."

The alternative rule would be a strange one.  It would be perverse to saddle Arizona with litigating in federal court the effectiveness of the lawyers it chose to provide to indigent prisoners.  The state has no obligation to provide counsel for these collateral proceedings.  Faced with the added burden, it could just scrap the state-law right to counsel and make appointment discretionary, as it is for federal prisoners.  (See 18 U.S.C. ยง3006A(a)(2)(B).)

If the added burden comes from Arizona's rule that it will not consider ineffective assistance claims on direct appeal, the state could easily scrap that rule as well.  The practical reality is that it is almost never possible to actually make a meritorious case of ineffective assistance on the trial record.  Scrapping the rule would just make extra work for the court of appeals judges to say so in every case where it is raised.

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Of course, since PC counsel is a matter of right in capital cases . . . .

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