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Name: Miles v. Martel
Case #: 10-15633
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/28/2012
Subsequent History: Opinion withdrawn 11/21/2012
Summary

Attorney provides ineffective assistance of counsel when he advises defendant to reject a six year plea offer without advising defendant he faced a possible 25-year-to-life sentence. In 2005 petitioner was arrested for passing bad checks. He was charged with four felony counts. Two prior robbery convictions were alleged as strikes. He pled guilty to one felony count and admitted the strikes, with the understanding he could ask the court to dismiss one or both of the serious felony priors. At sentencing the court declined to strike a prior and imposed 25 years to life. His conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. In 2008 he filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the California Supreme Court alleging IAC during plea bargaining and sentencing. He said his first attorney had conveyed a plea offer of six years but encouraged him to reject it and negotiate further. Petitioner said he was never told of his three strike exposure and, if he had been told, he would have accepted the six year offer. The Supreme Court denied the petition, which was also rejected by the district court. Held: Reversed. In Lafler v. Cooper (2012) 132 S.Ct. 1376 and Missouri v. Frye (2012) 132 S.Ct. 1399, the Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel extends to the plea bargaining process, even where a plea is rejected, based on Strickland v. Washington (1984) 466 U.S. 668. The state court unreasonably applied Strickland when it summarily denied petitioner’s claim. Here, the complaint clearly alleged two strike priors, yet petitioner averred he was advised to reject a six year plea offer as too high and never advised of the possibility of a life sentence. Petitioner’s allegations established a prima facie case of deficient performance by his attorney as well as prejudice. The case was remanded for an evidentiary hearing because the state court unreasonably held that even if petitioner’s factual allegations were true, he failed to make out a case of ineffective assistance of counsel.