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Lynn K. Neuner and William T. Russell Jr. Lynn K. Neuner and William T. Russell Jr.

The Court of Appeals recently addressed an ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claim in People v. Alvarez. The decision is notable for the unusually direct criticism with which the judges address each other’s arguments in the majority opinion and two strong dissents.

Background

Defendant was convicted in 1996 of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal sale of a controlled substance in connection with defendant’s membership in a drug trafficking organization. The trial record included evidence that defendant was involved in a drive-by shooting that resulted in the death of a 14-year-old and injury to two 15-year-olds. At sentencing, defendant refused to apologize to the deceased victim’s family and apparently laughed when the trial court explained its determination to sentence defendant to 66-2/3 years to life in prison.

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