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Name: Foote v. Del Papa
Case #: 06-15094
Opinion Date: 05/22/2007
Citation: 486 Fed.3d 1166
Summary

Because no U.S. Supreme Court case has held that an “irreconcilable conflict” between a defendant and his appointed counsel violates the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, a habeas action will be defeated by AEDPA’s requirement that the claim implicates an “open question.” (Carey v. Musladin (2006) __ U.S. __ [166 L.Ed.2d 482; 127 S.Ct. 649, 653].) Foote was represented by the Public Defender’s Office at his arraignment. After he filed a complaint in the United States District Court naming the Office and the attorney as defendant’s in an action alleging ineffective assistance, the Public Defender’s Office filed, and was granted, a motion to withdraw for conflict of interest. Foote retained counsel. The federal district court dismissed the action against the Office. On direct appeal, the Nevada trial court appointed the Public Defender’s Office to represent Foote. A habeas was filed in state court alleging ineffective assistance on the basis of an alleged conflict of interest by appellate counsel, in addition to other claims. The state court rejected the conflict of interest claim, stating that the alleged conflict was a potential one, rather than an actual one. The federal court, applying AEDPA standards, denied habeas relief, stating that because no Supreme Court case held that “irreconcilable conflict” was a Sixth Amendment violation, the Nevada Supreme Court’s rejection of the conflict claim was neither contrary to nor an unreasonable application of established federal law.