Seventh Circuit Reverses District Court’s Denial of 2255 Motion and Remands for a Hearing on Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

In this case, the defendant was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver more than 100 grams of heroin in a scheme involving some 40 defendants where her participation was minimal. After consulting with her lawyer, Brock-Miller, believing that she faced a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years if she went to trial due to a sentencing enhancement, pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 grams for a ten year sentence.

Not long after, she filed a post-conviction petition pursuant to 28 USC 2255. She alleged that her lawyer provided ineffective assistance of counsel in plea negotiations because, as it turned out, the defendant’s prior conviction was not a qualifier for the 20 year enhancement.

The District Court denied the petition without a hearing, but the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded for an evidentiary hearing, expressing in strong language the seeming inadequacy of the previous representation based on the fact that counsel advised the client regarding her eligibilty for a 20 year minimum sentence that was just wrong.

The case is Brock-Miller v. United States, 16-3050.

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