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Counsel – Ineffective Assistance – Deficient Performance – Failure to Investigate

Vonaire T. Washington v. Smith, 219 F.3d 620 (7th Cir. 2000)
For Washington: Robert R. Henak

Issue/Holding: Trial consel’s performance was deficient in three respects:

  • Last-minute issuance of subpoena for hard-to-find witness, on theory that trials are often adjourned at last minute anyway. (“(P)lacing witness convenience above the vital interests of his client does not make Mr. Engle’s decsion reasonable — or even really strategic.”)
  • Failure to investigate potential defense witnesses. (“Telling a client, who is in custody awaiting trial, to produce his own witnesses (as did Mr. Engle) falls painfully short of conducting a reasonable investigation, especially given that Sharon and David Brown did not have a telephone…. (I)t is wholly unreasonable for a lawyer to instruct his incarcerated client to get in touch with people who don’t have a phone.”)
  • Failure to read police report.
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