Judge Barbara Jones

Petitioners alleged the trial court’s failure to take affirmative steps to ensure the defendants were aware of conflicts attendant to their joint representation violated the petitioners’ rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth amendments. Petitioners also alleged they were denied effective assistance of counsel. A magistrate judge found petitioners’ ineffective assistance claims without merit and that their ex-counsel lacked a conflict of interest prejudicing them. Petitioners argued the magistrate judge erred in finding that they waived any conflict of interest inherent in former counsel’s joint representation of them. District court agreed with the magistrate judge that petitioners waived any conflict stemming from their representation by the same counsel, giving great weight to plea agreements signed by petitioners, explicitly stating that each understood their co-defendant was also represented in their guilty plea by the same attorney and that each petitioner affirmatively chose to have mutual representation and waived any claim of conflict. The court also agreed with the magistrate judge that, even assuming that counsel was operating under a potential conflict, petitioners were not prejudiced in their case.