Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sullivan: Ineffective post-conviction counsel

In Sullivan v. Sec., Fla. Dep’t of Corrections, No. 15-13993 (Sept. 20, 2016), the Court affirmed the grant of habeas relief to a Florida inmate who claimed that post-conviction counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate a claim that trial counsel was ineffective in counseling Sullivan to reject a 7-year plea offer and to go to trial on an voluntary intoxication defense, when voluntary intoxication was no longer a valid defense under Florida law, and Sullivan, a habitual offender, received a 30-year sentence. The failure to investigate was objectively unreasonable. Had post-conviction counsel investigated, he would have learned about the 7-year plea offer, and would have determined that it was ineffective advice to rely on a defense that had been abolished years earlier.