Tuesday, July 29, 2008

SC Supreme Court grants relief in conflict of interest case

In Lomax v. State, the Supreme Court granted PCR relief in a conflict of interest case. Lomax and her husband, Noah, pled guilty to a variety of drug offenses. Noah was sentenced to 3 years and Lomax received 25 years. Lomax argued that her defense lawyer, who also represented her husband, was ineffectual because of a conflict of interest. She said the lawyer spent more time preparing Noah's case and argued more for a lenient sentence for him.

The trial lawyer testified that she did not favor one client over the other but did spend more time working on the husband's case because she hoped to keep him from jail because he faced far fewer charges.

The Court held that "A review of the plea proceeding also reveals that plea counsel argued for leniency on behalf of husband by comparing his more limited involvement in the crimes to that of petitioner." "We believe plea counsel’s approach essentially pitted husband against Petitioner, which was clearly detrimental to petitioner’s interests."

1 comment:

Amul Raj said...

Appellate law is different than other forms of litigation in the respect that is no discovery, and the appellate record is limited to what was already presented to the trial court. An appeal is presented to a multi-judge appellate panel and is decided almost entirely on the written briefs, including those from amice curiae (Friend of the Court) groups. Appellate law deals mainly with what judgments are appealable, how appeals are brought before the court, what will be required for a reversal of the lower court (e.g., a showing of "abuse of discretion," "clear error," etc.), and what procedures each party must follow.
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