Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pineda: Counsel not ineffective in not moving to suppress evidence

In Pineda v. Warden, No. 14-13772 (Sept. 21, 2015) the Court affirmed the denial of habeas relief to a Georgia inmate who claimed his lawyer was ineffective in failing to move to suppress cocaine found in a vacant apartment. The Court agreed with Pineda that the Georgia Court of Appeals incorrectly found that officers had a view of the vacant apartment that they later searched, because such a view was physically impossible. The Court also noted that counsel was not reasonable in believing that a motion to suppress the contents of the apartment would jeopardize a trial defense that Pineda did not live in the apartment and therefore could not have owned the cocaine. Evidence presented in a separate hearing on the search could not have been admissible at trial. But counsel was reasonable in believing that Pineda lacked standing to challenge a search of the apartment, because Pineda had abandoned it. Trial counsel knew that Pineda had not lived in the apartment for several weeks, had a new lease with his aunt at a new apartment, had given away his garage remote and had no access to the apartment. Counsel reasonably decided that Pineda lacked standing to challenge a search of the vacant apartment. Though counsel could have argued against abandonment, reasonable jurists could agree that counsel was not deficient in not perfecting a motion to suppress.