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When Anthony Leslie went on trial for attempted murder of a police officer in 1988, he thought he was being defended by two lawyers. But the post-trial revelation that one of his counsel was not an attorney and had never received a law degree was not enough to reverse Leslie’s conviction and earn him a new trial. In fact, both of the men who represented Leslie in 1988 were subsequently convicted of felonies. However, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Leslie v. Artuz, 99-2680, that the presence of non-attorney Terence L. Green at the defense table did not deprive Leslie of effective assistance of counsel. In 1987, Leslie and another man were riding in a car when they were ordered to the side of the road by police. According to police, Leslie began struggling when Officer John Negus tried to remove a handgun from Leslie’s waistband. Leslie pointed the gun at Negus’ partner and was then tackled by Negus. While fighting with Leslie, Negus said he heard a loud metallic click next to his ear. On trial for attempted murder, Leslie hired Green, who in turn filed a motion in New York Supreme Court for the admission of District of Columbia attorney Blaine A’mmon White pro hac vice, saying he would “accompany Mr. White at each and every stage of this proceeding.” At trial, with Leslie claiming that police were lying about the incident, White handled the bulk of the lawyering. But Green cross-examined the state’s ballistics expert on the issue of whether the trigger of the gun, which was found to contain six bullets, had actually been pulled. Green elicited from the expert that the gun and ammunition were in working order. However, the expert could not state with any certainty that an indentation in the primer was caused by the gun’s firing pin, and therefore could not state whether the trigger had been pulled. Green also prepared the defense’s ballistics expert and cross-examined him at trial. Two years after he was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, Leslie wrote a letter of complaint about Green to the Disciplinary Committee of the Appellate Division, 1st Department. After being informed that Green was not a licensed attorney, Leslie filed a motion pro se to have the conviction vacated. The trial judge, New York County Supreme Court Justice Harold Rothwax, denied the motion a decision upheld by the Appellate Division in 1997. Leslie’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus was denied by Southern District Judge Robert W. Sweet, who found that Leslie was “represented by a bona fide attorney throughout the entire trial.” Sweet then granted a certificate of appealability on the sole question of whether Leslie’s Sixth Amendment rights were violated. Writing for the 2nd Circuit, Judge Amalya L. Kearse said Leslie “challenges the finding that White represented him at every critical point, arguing that Green examined the sole defense witness and that White examined only one more witness than did Green.” “That quantitative analysis is specious, ” Kearse said. “ In light of Leslie’s defense position that in fact he did not draw a gun on the officers, the testimony of the officers who were involved in Leslie’s arrest was plainly the crucial aspect of the case.” It was White, the judge said, who cross-examined the officers at trial, delivered opening and closing statements, made virtually all of the objections and dealt with jury instructions. Green’s role, Kearse said, was primarily to cross-examine the ballistics expert, whose testimony the trial judge characterized as “equivocal and nonincriminatory.” “The witnesses examined by Green were thus inconsequential,” she said. “but in any event, White was present as Leslie’s lead attorney throughout the questioning of these witnesses.” And the dismissal of Leslie’s habeas petition is proper, she said, because the state court’s “refusal to vacate Leslie’s conviction,” was not contrary to clearly established supreme court jurisprudence. Kearse also said the state court was not obligated to hold a hearing post-trial to explore the role of counsel in the case and the extent to which Green directed the defense. A hearing was also unnecessary to determine whether White may have known that Green was not a lawyer, she said. Green pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the third degree on an unrelated case in 1991, was sentenced to 2 to 4 years in prison and then paroled in 1993. White was convicted by a federal jury in Maryland of two counts of passport fraud in 1992 and disbarred by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997. Judges Robert D. Sack and Sonia Sotomayor joined in the opinion. Robert J. Boyle, a sole practitioner based in Manhattan, represented Leslie. Assistant District Attorneys Ellen Sue Handman and Morrie I. Kleinbart represented the State.

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