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Carlos Trevino v. Thaler, USSC No. 10189, Cert Granted 10/29/12

Question Presented (from cert pet):

In federal habeas proceedings, undersigned counsel raised for the first time a claim under Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510 (2003), that trial counsel were ineffective for failing to investigate the extraordinary mitigating evidence in Mr. Trevino’s life. The federal proceeding was stayed to allow exhaustion, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed Mr. Trevino’s Wiggins claim under state abuse of the writ rules. Thereafter, the federal district court dismissed the claim as procedurally barred, finding no cause for the default. On appeal, Mr. Trevino argued that the Court of Appeals should stay further proceedings until this Court resolved the question then-pending in several cases whether ineffective assistance of state habeas counsel in failing to raise a meritorious claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel established cause for the default in state habeas proceedings. The Court of Appeals refused to stay Mr. Trevino’s appeal for this purpose. Four months later, this Court decided in Martinez v. Ryan, 132 S.Ct. 1309 (March 20, 2012), that ineffective assistance of state habeas counsel in the very circumstance presented by Mr. Trevino’s case could establish cause for the default of a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. These circumstances present the following question:

Whether the Court should grant certiorari, vacate the Court of Appeals’ opinion, and remand to the Court of Appeals for consideration of Mr. Trevino’s argument under Martinez v. Ryan?

Docket

Lower court opinion (Trevino v. Thaler, 449 Fed.Appx. 415 (5th Cir. 11/14/2011))

Scotusblog page

A 2254 habeas procedural-default case: whether Trevino’s IAC claim was defaulted under the state (Texas) abuse-of-writ doctrine, in that he didn’t raise the claim until his second state habeas attack. Remains to be seen whether the case has any valence for Wisconsin postconviction practice, but in any event federal habeas practitioners should be interested in the outcome.

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