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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

Todd Spodek is a second generation attorney with immense experience. He has many years of experience handling 100’s of tough and hard to win trials. He’s been featured on major news outlets, such as New York Post, Newsweek, Fox 5 New York, South China Morning Post, Insider.com, and many others.

In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.

Why Clients Choose Spodek Law Group

The reason is simple: clients want white glove service, and lawyers who can win. Every single client who works with the Spodek Law Group is aware that the attorney they hire could drastically change the outcome of their case. Hiring the Spodek Law Group means you’re taking your future seriously. Our lawyers handle cases nationwide, ranging from NYC to LA. Our philosophy is fair and simple: our nyc criminal lawyers only take on clients who we know will benefit from our services.

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How to Vacate a Federal Conviction Due to Ineffective Counsel in NY

By Spodek Law Group | November 27, 2023
(Last Updated On: November 27, 2023)

How to Vacate a Federal Conviction Due to Ineffective Counsel in New York

If you were convicted of a federal crime in New York and believe you had ineffective counsel, there are ways to try and vacate (cancel) your conviction. This process can be complicated, but don’t lose hope! Here’s an overview of your options and what you need to do.

What Makes Counsel Ineffective?

For your conviction to be overturned due to ineffective counsel, your lawyer must have failed to provide competent representation and this failure must have negatively impacted your case. Examples of ineffective counsel include:

  • Not investigating your case properly
  • Failing to call key witnesses
  • Not informing you of plea bargain offers
  • Having a conflict of interest
  • Failing to make important objections at trial
  • Poor performance during the sentencing phase

There’s no guarantee that even serious errors by your lawyer will lead to your conviction being vacated. The courts look at whether the outcome likely would have been different with competent counsel.

Direct Appeal of a Federal Conviction

After being convicted in federal court, you can file a direct appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals. This appeal can include a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. However, the appeal is limited to evidence that is already part of the trial record. If your claim relies on evidence outside the record, you’ll need to pursue other options.

To succeed on an ineffectiveness claim in a direct appeal, you must show your counsel’s deficient performance and the likely impact it had on the verdict. This can be difficult to prove from just the trial record. But a direct appeal is still important because it starts the clock on deadlines for other types of appeals.

Federal Habeas Corpus Petition

After your direct appeal, the main way to challenge your conviction is through a federal habeas corpus petition. This involves filing a civil lawsuit in federal court to contest your imprisonment. The petition can include claims that weren’t raised on direct appeal, like ineffective assistance of counsel.

With a habeas petition, you aren’t limited to evidence contained in the trial record. You can present affidavits and other information to demonstrate your lawyer’s deficiencies. However, the federal court will still defer to any factual findings made by the state courts.

You generally must file your federal habeas petition within one year of your conviction becoming final after direct review. This deadline is strict, so don’t delay in starting the habeas process.

Evidentiary Hearing

If you raise a strong ineffective assistance claim in your habeas petition, the federal court may grant an evidentiary hearing. This allows you to present evidence and testimony to further prove your lawyer’s failings and their impact on the verdict.

To get a hearing, you’ll need to show your claim relies on evidence not contained in the trial record. The evidence should establish incompetence by your lawyer and a reasonable likelihood of a different trial outcome absent those errors.

State Court Appeals

In addition to federal court, you can pursue ineffective counsel claims in New York’s state courts. For example, you can file a motion to vacate judgment under N.Y. Criminal Procedure Law § 440.10. This allows you to present evidence outside the trial record.

Another option is to file a state habeas corpus petition claiming your imprisonment violates the U.S. or New York constitutions. The deadline for state habeas is generally three years after conviction.

Any state court rulings against you can then be challenged in your federal habeas petition. Exhausting state remedies helps strengthen your ineffective assistance claim.

Overcoming Procedural Barriers

The courts won’t simply ignore procedural rules to hear out your ineffectiveness claim. If you fail to properly raise the claim in state court first, the federal court may deem it procedurally barred.

You can overcome this hurdle by showing “cause and prejudice.” For cause, demonstrate an external factor prevented you from properly raising the claim in state court. Show prejudice by establishing the errors by counsel undermined the whole trial.

Proving Ineffectiveness

With any appeal or petition, you must prove both incompetence of counsel and resulting prejudice under the Strickland standard. Gather affidavits, hearing transcripts, and other evidence to meticulously detail all your lawyer’s missteps.

Show how those errors reasonably could have altered the outcome. With a murder trial, for instance, prove how an alibi witness could have raised reasonable doubt if called to testify.

Be specific and thorough in explaining counsel’s unprofessional errors and how they affected your case. Conclusory allegations won’t satisfy the strict Strickland test.

Seeking Clemency

If you’ve exhausted all judicial appeals, another option is to apply for executive clemency. The President has the power to grant a pardon or commute a federal sentence. In your clemency petition, detail how ineffective counsel caused an unfair conviction or excessive sentence.

Clemency is very rare, especially in recent years. But executive pardons have sometimes been granted in cases of ineffective assistance of counsel leading to wrongful convictions.

Finding a Lawyer

Pursuing these appeals takes extensive legal knowledge. Having a lawyer assist you will improve your chances versus filing pro se. The court may appoint counsel if you’re indigent.

You can also contact advocacy groups like the Innocence Project and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for possible legal aid. Don’t let lack of funds stop you from fighting your conviction.

Conclusion

Getting a conviction overturned due to ineffective assistance is an uphill battle. But with strong evidence of counsel’s errors and their impact, it is possible in some cases. Don’t get discouraged if lower courts deny your appeals – keep fighting all the way up the ladder.

With effort and commitment, an unfair conviction can potentially be vacated. Seek out help to navigate this complex process. The fight for justice and liberty is worth it.

[1] https://jlm.law.columbia.edu/files/2017/05/32.-Ch.-20.pdf
[2] https://www.spolinlaw.com/new-york/cpl-440-motion/
[3] https://www.nycbar.org/media-listing/media/detail/allowing-ineffective-assistance-of-counsel-claims-via-post-conviction-motions-new-law
[4] https://jlm.law.columbia.edu/files/2017/05/24.-Ch.-12.pdf
[5] https://www.nycbar.org/member-and-career-services/committees/reports-listing/reports/detail/ineffective-assistance-of-counsel-post-conviction

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