Juniper v. Davis, No. 13-7R1

Filed: December 10, 2013

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s denial of defendant’s federal habeas corpus petition based on Gray v. Pearson. In Gray, the Fourth Circuit held that a federal habeas petitioner was entitled to independent counsel to pursue the ineffectiveness of state habeas counsel in order to raise procedurally barred “ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel” claims in the happenstance that the petitioner is represented by the same counsel in both federal and state habeas proceedings.

While federal habeas proceedings were pending in Gray, the Supreme Court issued Martinez v. Ryan, which announced that, for states like Virginia – where a petitioner can only raise an ineffective assistance claim on collateral review – federal habeas counsel can investigate and pursue the ineffectiveness of state habeas counsel in an effort to overcome the default of procedurally barred ineffective-assistance-of-trial counsel claims. In accordance with Martinez, the Fourth Circuit in Gray held that the petitioner was entitled to independent counsel in his federal habeas proceedings. In fact, it was decided that qualified and independent counsel was ethically required. Therefore, the Fourth Circuit held that a district court must grant the motion for appointment of counsel without regard to whether the underlying motion identifies a “substantial” ineffective assistance claim under Martinez.

Full Opinion

– Sarah Bishop

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