The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Shinn v. Ramirez, 142 S. Ct. 1718 (2022), diminished the role of federal courts in protecting defendants’ Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel by limiting when a defendant can raise an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel (IAC) claim in federal court. Defendants in states like Arizona and Texas—which bar raising IAC claims until state habeas proceedings—will be unable to effectively litigate those Sixth Amendment claims in federal court. In other states that do not defer IAC claims, a defendant has the right on appeal (1) to raise an IAC claim regarding their trial counsel and (2) to raise that claim with the constitutional guarantee of the effective assistance of their appellate counsel. But in states like Arizona and Texas, the first right is deferred to state habeas, and the second right—because there is no constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel in state habeas proceedings—is extinguished altogether.
This Note considers what Shinn portends for defendants in states that defer IAC claims to state habeas proceedings. The Note argues that, while there may be no right to a remedy in federal court, the Constitution requires that state courts fill the vacuum left by the departure of the federal courts.
The argument proceeds in three steps. First, where defendants have a Sixth Amendment right to counsel, they may assert that right by raising an IAC claim. Second, that right includes presenting evidence in support of the IAC claim. Finally, when a state defers IAC claims from a proceeding in which the defendant ordinarily would have a right to effective assistance of counsel to one where the defendant ordinarily lacks such a right, for example state habeas proceedings, the state must provide the defendant with effective assistance of counsel at that subsequent proceeding.
If all three of these propositions are true, this Note argues defendants in states that defer IAC claims have the right to an additional forum: one where they can raise an IAC claim about the lawyer that first raised an IAC claim on their behalf. Providing such a forum would restore defendants to the same constitutional position as defendants in other states. While the federal courts used to provide this forum, after Shinn v. Ramirez, they have bowed out. The task now falls to the state courts.
* J.D., Stanford Law School, 2023. I owe a debt of gratitude to Paul Bleich, whose curiosity led to the conversation that sparked the idea for this Note; to Norman Spaulding, whose guidance and support shepherded that idea into the form of a Note; to Mariah Mastrodimos, Parker Kelly, Jeffrey Fisher, Robert Weisberg, and David Sklansky, whose insight helped me untangle the web of federal habeas doctrine; and to Katelyn Deibler, Erich Remiker, and Yixuan Liu, whose meticulous editing transformed the Note into what it is today. Thank you as well to the editors of the Stanford Law Review, especially Connor Werth, Jamie Halper, Caroline Hunsicker, Max Kennedy, William Moss, Conrad Sproul, and Mary-Claire Spurgin.