By Burt Rose
The United States Supreme Court has granted a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari in the matter of Luis Mariano Martinez, Petitioner v. Charles L. Ryan, Director, Arizona Department of Corrections, No. 10-1001, 2011 WL 380903, 79 USLW 3479 (June 6, 2011).
The question raised in this case is the following:
Whether a defendant in a state criminal case who is prohibited by state law from raising on direct appeal any claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, but who has a state-law right to raise such a claim in a first post-conviction proceeding, has a federal constitutional right to effective assistance of first post-conviction counsel specifically with respect to his ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim.
The state courts ruled that Petitioner’s ineffective-assistance-of-trial counsel claim was “precluded” because his first postconviction
counsel failed to raise it. The panel opinion of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is reported as Martinez v. Schriro, 623 F.3d 731
(9th Cir. 2010). The Court of Appeals held that Petitioner did not have a federal right to effective assistance of his first
post-conviction relief counsel with regard to his federal ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel claim, and that the claim had been procedurally defaulted.
The Petitioner advances the proposition that Petitioner, as an Arizona state defendant, had a federal constitutional right to effective
assistance of his first post-conviction counsel, specifically and only with respect to any claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. In Coleman v. Thompson, the Court stated the general rule that “there is no right to counsel in state collateral proceedings.” 501 U.S. at 755. But the Court recognized that there might be an exception to that general rule when “state collateral review is the first place a prisoner can present a challenge to his conviction.”
This case could have significant implications for PCRA jurisprudence in Pennsylvania. Then again, it may not.