One of our firm partners, Attorney Dan Lage, recently won a habeas case for a client. To learn more about the case and the habeas corpus trial, check out this page. Below, Dan talks about the biggest challenge in this case, as well as the biggest challenge in all habeas corpus cases. Dan also discusses the challenges that his defense team will face going forward. 

If you are interested in getting help with a habeas corpus case, you can contact our office. We can provide more information and resources to assist with your situation. 

Dan’s Biggest Challenge

The biggest challenge I faced in Lascelles Clue’s case is the same as in every habeas case. Habeas cases typically challenge the decisions made by the original defense lawyer, and the law that governs habeas cases affords those lawyers a large amount of latitude. Courts generally do not want to overturn convictions, and The Supreme Court of the United States made it extremely difficult to get a new trial based on the trial lawyer’s ineffectiveness. They said that not only does the lawyer need to be found deficient in accordance with the prevailing standards at the time, but also that the deficiency had a materially damaging effect on the case. That’s a huge burden to overcome. This is because lawyers are given a large degree of deference. Strategic decisions are at the purview of the trial lawyer and to the extent that they omit some strategy in favor of another is not something that courts want to go back and second guess.

But in addition to demonstrating the the lawyer was deficient, it must also be proven that the deficiency caused  an unjust conviction. And the reviewing court can decide either one without deciding the other. And so that in and of itself is the challenge for every single case. Plus, you’ve got witnesses that don’t want to cooperate, memories fade, and then there’s the practical consideration that isn’t written down in any case or textbook – but it’s still true – people want convictions to be upheld. Society tends to want to keep people in prison. It’s a sentiment in this country defense lawyer constantly grapple with.

Challenges Going Forward

Going forward, the challenge will be the risk – the risk that if my client loses again, he has to relive that nightmare. Dealing with that reality is a challenge. But in actually trying the case, he is in a better position today than he was 10 years ago. He now has a more formidable defense to be presented than he had available to him in the past. And, given the passage of time, the prosecution’s case wouldn’t be as strong as it was back then, and even back then it wasn’t that strong.