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Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claim Wins New Hearing For Client At The North Carolina Court of Appeals

Criminal defendants and parents in termination of parental rights cases both have the right to an attorney.  If the lawyer who represents them does not do a competent enough job, then the parent or defendant can ask for a new trial because he or she did not receive the “effective assistance of counsel.”

In In Re Z.K.M., the N.C. Court of Appeals accepted Mr. Hayes’ argument that the first trial might be set aside because of one of these claims.   It noted that the client’s attorney “did not question any of the witnesses or offer any evidence; he lodged no objections to the evidence presented; and he made no argument on [the client’s] behalf at the adjudication or disposition phases of the hearing. We note that counsel made no motion for a continuance so as to contact his client and made no motion to withdraw as counsel without notice to his client.”

The client in this case hailed from a small town south of Greensboro and High Point, and was appealing an order.   The two never met personally, but Mr. Hayes was able to conduct the appeal while staying in contact via phone and letter.   The Law Office of Mark L. Hayes handles cases from across North Carolina.

The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the trial court for a new hearing to make a determination about the attorney’s representation.

“IAC claims are extremely difficult to win, because judges are lawyers like the rest of us, and no lawyer wants to tell another lawyer that the job he did was unacceptable,” Mark Hayes stated.  “Still, there are some cases in which the attorney doesn’t do what we in the legal community think should be basic or automatic.  It might be an objection the lawyer didn’t make, a motion to dismiss that wasn’t renewed, or any manner of other things.  It is not, however, a requirement of perfection.  Lawyers make mistakes all the time which don’t support an IAC claim.”

Read the full case at LINK.

http://appellate.nccourts.org/opinions/?c=2&pdf=MjAxMy8xMi0xMTYxLTEucGRm

Posted on: 9 Jul, 2013