Ineffective assistance of counsel is a discrete legal ground for appeal in post-conviction relief cases even if the underlying issue was “previously litigated” on appeal, according to a late-December Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision.

In Commonwealth v. Collins, the court agreed with Ronald Collins that an interpretation of “previously litigated” as precluding ineffectiveness claims ignores the fact that post-conviction review could be the only means for a defendant to challenge the effectiveness of prior counsel, according to the opinion.

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