WRESTLING WITH EQUITY: IDENTIFIABLE TRENDS AS THE FEDERAL COURTS GRAPPLE WITH THE PRACTICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF MARTINEZ V. RYAN & TREVINO V. THALER
For decades, the Supreme Court of the United States was clear that
the quality of legal assistance a prisoner received during his or her state
collateral-review proceedings was of no significance in federal habeas
proceedings, even if effective assistance from counsel at trial and on
direct appeal was constitutionally guaranteed.
If state direct appeal counsel failed to properly raise a compelling constitutional claim in direct appeal proceedings? Well, that claim was procedurally defaulted
in federal habeas and barred from merits consideration absent an
acceptable excuse or a showing that failing to review the claim would
result in an innocent person being punished. But, if appellate counsel’s
ineffective assistance was sufficiently alleged in state court, then that
appellate-ineffectiveness could be used as a sufficient excuse,
overcoming the default of the underlying claim and allowing the federal
habeas court to review the underlying claim’s constitutional merits.