Motion Gavel

Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence

Under Maryland Rule 4-345(a) an illegal sentence may be corrected at any time. You file a Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence in the court where your trial or plea took place.  It is typically ruled on by the judge who heard your case or the judge who inherits your sentencing judge’s docket.  You are not[…]

Brendan Dassey

Brendan Dassey Not Home in Time for Thanksgiving [UPDATE]

UPDATE: A 7th Circuit panel of  three judges granted the State’s emergency motion to block Brendan Dassey’s release.  The order indicates that Mr. Dassey will remain incarcerated pending the outcome of the appeal.  I can’t imagine what Mr. Dassey and his family must feel like right now. Today the Court Ordered Brendan Dassey released no[…]

Post Conviction Relief Granted for Adnan Syed

On June 30, 2016, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City granted relief in Adnan Syed v. State. You can read the Court’s 59 page Memorandum Opinion and Order at the end of this post.  I’m going to attempt to bottom line the key points in the Court’s opinion.

There were three issues before the Court:

  1.  Did Mr. Syed’s trial counsel render ineffective assistance in failing to contact Asia McClain as a potential alibi witness?
  2.  Did the State fail to turn over documents to defense as required by law?
  3.  Did trial counsel render ineffective assistance in failing to challenge the reliability of the State’s cell tower location evidence

The Court denied relief on the first two claims, but granted relief as to the third claim.  You only need to win on one issue to win a new trial.  Mr. Syed did not need to will on all of the claims in order to ultimately prevail.

Did Mr. Syed’s trial counsel render ineffective assistance in failing to contact Asia McClain as a potential alibi witness? […]

Improper Closing Argument [UPDATE]

UPDATE: On November 7, 2016, the Court of Special Appeals GRANTED the Application for Leave to Appeal the Denial of Post Conviction Relief in my client’s case!  I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to fight for my client.  The Court’s Order is below.  The granting of an Application for Leave to Appeal is rare.  According to C. Justin Brown, between 2010 and 2014 the Court of Special Appeals granted just 1.22% of all of the Applications filed.

Recently, the Court of Special Appeals ordered the State to respond to the Application for Leave to Appeal the Denial of Post Conviction Relief in one of my cases.  You can read more about ALA’s in general, here.   I’ve posted the Court’s order and my Application for Leave to Appeal below.  The Court’s order is the first step toward getting the ALA granted.  After the State responds, the Court could set the matter in for full briefing and oral argument, it could deny the ALA, or it could grant the ALA based on the pleadings alone. […]

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Part 3:

Most everyone has heard of the standard of proof in a criminal prosecution, “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  It is the highest standard of proof in our legal system.  It was the standard of proof that applied during Adnan Syed’s trial.  The State was tasked with persuading the jury that Mr. Syed was guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt and Mr. Syed was presumed innocent until the State satisfied its burden of proof. […]

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Part 2:

So let’s talk about prejudice and post conviction.  Yesterday’s post discussed deficient performance, a serious mistake, the first prong of Strickland.  The second part of the test involves “prejudice,”  and we’re not talking about the kind meant by #Oscarssowhite.  What does the case law say? […]

Brady Violations: A Quick Primer

     I’ll translate this into plain language in an update to this post, but here are the fundamentals of Brady: In Brady v. Maryland, the United States Supreme Court held that the state’s suppression of exculpatory evidence at trial violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. To prevail on a Brady claim, Petitioner[…]

The Danger of Loud and Wrong: a Public Service Announcement

    “Loud and wrong” is an expression of which I’m rather fond.  It applies when someone is equal parts incorrect and adamant that they are right.  Another way to describe this state of being is confident and uninformed or my personal favorite, “Strong with no money.”  Though I harbor a certain, peculiar admiration for the kind of person who is so completely without shame, self reflection, or concern that they could be making an utter fool of themselves, this behavior presents a genuine danger to clients and attorneys. […]

Can the court lower my sentence?

Short answer: Yes, if the defendant or the attorney filed the right document at the right time.  That does not mean that the court will lower the sentence, but the option isn’t even on the table if the proper document was not filed at the proper time.  In my practice, I have seen the full gamut of rulings on Motions to Modify Sentence, from flat denials at the time of filing to life sentences being modified to time served sentences, which resulted in a defendant’s immediate release.  In all likelihood, such defendants would have otherwise died in prison.  What happens in a particular case depends on a number of factors that are unique to that case, but a defendant won’t even have a chance at this type of relief unless the Motion is filed on time.