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Counsel – Ethically Deficient Performance

OLR v. Joan M. Boyd, 2010 WI 41

Various derelictions warrant 12-month license suspension, consecutive to already-imposed suspensions. The Counts include various failures to act competently and to keep her client reasonably informed in a number of postconviction actions. In one instance, lack of diligence led to loss of the federal habeas statute of limitations, ¶8; and in another, to a lost state appellate deadline, ¶11. Another count, of potential interest, ¶14:

Count 7.  By failing to consider the input and wishes of G.W. and, instead, filing an unrevised motion that turned out to be legally inadequate and ineffective, Attorney Boyd did not provide competent representation to G.W., thereby violating SCR 20:1.1.

G.W., serving a 25-year sentence, retained Boyd who prepared a postconviction motion and duly sent it to G.W. for his review. G.W. told her “the motion appeared to be legally defective because it did not include all the grounds for possible relief they had discussed, and it failed to allege that post-conviction counsel was ineffective in the original appeal,” ¶12.  Boyd ignored the critique and “filed the pleadings as originally prepared.” The postconviction court denied the motion on precisely the defect identified by G.W., and Boyd proceeded to bollix up the appeal, and left G.W. to fend for himself, ¶13. A lot is left unsaid by the court, but Boyd stipulated to the Count, making analysis unnecessary. Worth keeping in mind that your incarcerated clients have access to a highly specialized resource — other inmates, all of whom have nothing but time to devote to researching and keeping up to date on specific, recurrent issues. And even if they are often not just spectacularly but loonily wrong, an open mind is highly advisable. You might come out of it with a truffle.

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