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Habeas Petition Granted on IAC Grounds

People v. Ruiz Court: California Courts of Appeal, Docket: B312062 (Second Appellate District), Opinion Date: March 15, 2023. Defendant was convicted of carjacking, attempted robbery and arson, all committed shortly after he turned 19 years old. At the conclusion of a resentencing hearing, Defendant’s trial counsel said that he would prepare a notice of appeal. He never did so. As it turns out, Defendant’s counsel had a brain tumor which was diagnosed five months after the hearing. He died in the hospital later that same year. Defendant contends his trial counsel did nothing to assist him at the resentencing hearing and had no tactical reason for his inaction. Defendant also filed this related habeas corpus petition claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. The Second Appellate District granted Defendant’s habeas relief and remanded to the trial court for a new resentencing hearing. Here, the available evidence from Defendant and his trial counsel’s secretary supports Defendant’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. This is not a case where counsel was silent because there was nothing to say. There was no tactical reason to say or do nothing. In addition to the declarations described above, Defendant possessed documentation of his programming in prison, demonstrating that his trial counsel would have had a basis to argue that Defendant had in fact been rehabilitating himself. The court explained that Defendant’s trial counsel had a legal argument to make to strike the gang enhancement. Defendant had a right to the effective assistance of counsel at his resentencing hearing. As a result of his trial counsel’s total inaction on every front, Defendant was on his own.


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